Eggplant Muffuletta

This is no ordinary muffuletta. Made with oven-roasted eggplant slices instead of salumi, a homemade New Orleans–style olive salad, and a fresh basil spread, this muffuletta tastes so good you’ll never even miss the meat! If you aren’t up to making the olive salad yourself, it’ll still be enjoyable with one from the store.

4 sandwiches

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1½ pounds), trimmed and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf seeded Italian bread
  • Basil Spread
  • 2 cups New Orleans–Style Olive Salad (recipe follows)
  • 4 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese

1. Position an oven rack as close to the broiler unit as possible, and preheat the broiler.

2. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on two lightly greased baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush both sides of the slices with the olive oil. Season both sides with the salt and pepper. Broil the eggplant, in batches, until the slices are tender and lightly browned and have released most of their moisture, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and move the oven rack to the center position.

4. When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Using a pastry brush, spread the bottom half with a generous amount of Basil Spread.

5. Spread the olive salad (with its olive oil—do not strain) over the top half of the loaf. Layer the sliced mozzarella and provolone on top of the olive salad, and then layer the slices of eggplant. Place the bottom half of the sandwich on top and lightly press. Quickly and carefully turn the loaf over so that the olive salad side is on top.

6. Place the muffuletta on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake until the cheese has melted, the muffuletta is heated through, and the bread is slightly crisp, about 12 minutes.

7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully transfer the loaf to a cutting board. Press lightly, and cut the loaf into 4 sections. Serve immediately.

New Orleans–Style Olive Salad

About 2 quarts

Don’t let the ingredient list scare you—these are all familiar ingredients, and once this salad is stirred together, all the work is done. I personally love making a big batch of this because it’s so delicious on so many things and it lasts practically forever in the fridge . . . but if you like, it is easily halved for a smaller batch.

  • 1 quart large pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1½ cups large Greek black olives, drained, pitted, and halved
  • 1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pickled cauliflower, drained
  • 3 to 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • ½ cup pepperoncini, drained and halved
  • ¹⁄³ cup cocktail onions, drained
  • ¼ cup nonpareil capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence or Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

Combine all the ingredients in a large nonreactive bowl and mix well. Place in a large nonreactive jar (preferably glass) and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. The salad should be made at least 24 hours before using and only improves with age. You can keep it for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor