Muffalettas (And You Won’t Miss the Meat)

Muffaletta_color350I’m working on a meatless cookbook. Not because I really wish I were vegetarian. I just want to be a better carnivore, eating smaller quantities of as much locally, ethically produced meat as I can.

Two days a week David and I typically eat meatless, but we’re not rigid. The other night we went to friend’s house for dinner and chowed down on some pretty succulent beef tenderloin on one of our meatless days. No guilt. Sometime we try to make it up on another day. Sometimes we don’t.

A few days ago I needed two rotisserie chickens. Lucky me. There was an organic one in the case… but the second one wasn’t, so I bought one of each. It’s an evolution. One thing’s for sure. We’re eating less mass-produced meat in our family. We’re getting there, and that’s what matters.

The more I cook vegetarian the more I realize our meatless days have got to be just as celebratory and fun as days when meat’s on the menu. So that’s the goal in the new book. As many of you know Maggy and Sharon have both been working with me, Sharon during the book’s conception, Maggy for most of the development.

One of the chapters we’re all most proud of is the sandwiches. They’re so good, no one’s asking, “Where’s the meat?” A couple weeks ago Three Many Cooks and Ivory Hut co-hosted The Big Summer Potluck for our food blogger friends. During planning, we went back and forth over what to serve for lunch.

Since we were forty strong we knew we needed to keep it simple. To avoid making two different sandwiches for our diverse group, we settled on the Meatless Muffalettas we had just developed for the new book.

Using the classic New Orleans sandwich for inspiration, we made a flavorful meatless version, developing a simple yet colorful olive spread with a mix of milder ripe black olives with the more colorful assertive pimento-stuffed green. Echoing the olive theme, we used two cheeses—a mild mozzarella with a more assertive provolone. For crunch we added a little sliced red onion. And finally to give the sandwich a meaty feel, we used artichoke hearts and oil-packed sundried tomatoes.

Thinking some of our guests might want to bulk up their sandwich, I bought a package of thin-sliced cured Italian meat. It never made it out of the fridge, and nobody missed it.

15 Comments

  1. says

    I can’t wait for your meatless book to come out.

    My rotation of meatless recipes is:
    Beans and rice (in every variation I can think of)
    Pasta (puttanesca, pesto, arrabiata)

    and…that’s about it. I need more ideas!

  2. says

    Oh Pam, your meatless muffaletta stole the show and my heart. But I have to say what has made me smile even more is seeing everyone else’s response to them after the fact. For me they are a much loved staple in the coastal south, so to see & hear everyones enjoyment of them for the very first time was a treat in itself. I can’t wait to make your version for all of my friends :)

  3. Melissa says

    I need to go pre-order the book too-we also have been trying to eat less meat but it can be hard to come up with tasty recipes

  4. Cassie Sue says

    When can we expect this book? My sister has been a vegetarian, and kind of a poor one at that for several years now. She is a great cook, but usually turns to tater tots and string cheese when she can’t think of things to make so I can’t wait to get this book for her. I have several of your other cook books and I love them!

  5. Pam says

    Cassie,

    The meatless book isn’t out until fall 2011. My new book–Perfect One-Dish Dinners is out this fall. In fact, it’s officially available.

  6. Cassie Sue says

    Thanks for letting me know, I’ll have to look out for Perfect One Dish Dinners, having two kids and working 10 hour days means I could use some good one dish dinners in my arsenal. Less pots and pans to clean = more time for me and my family… yay!

    Guess my sis will have to wait a while before that meatless book comes out, but at least you have some good meatless options on your website already that might give her good motivation.

    Thanks Pam!

  7. Sharon says

    I was skeptical of a “meatless” version of a sandwich that is completely dependent on not one but MANY kinds of meat for its identity. But, Mom–as usual–pulled it off again. The meatless muffaletta embraces all the flavors of this classic sandwich, and is incredibly filling (I only ate half!) but light enough that I don’t feel like I’ve got a giant boulder of cured meats in my belly.

    Seriously, this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. Bravo, mama!

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