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.