Roasted Eggplant "Muffulettas"
- 2 cups Olive Salad, recipe follows
- Basil Spread:
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds, ends trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced mozzarella
- 2 large round Italian seeded breads* (or use seeded Italian baguettes, enough for 4 servings)
Make the Olive Salad at least 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 2 weeks in advance. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. (Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.)
Make the Basil Spread. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, place the garlic and basil and process on high while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to process until well blended. Season with salt, to taste, and set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches. (The basil spread can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, with a thin film of oil over the top to prevent discoloration. Allow to come to room temperature before using.)
Light the grill or preheat the broiler.
If using the broiler, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on 2 lightly greased or nonstick baking sheets. Lightly brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the olive oil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Grill or broil in batches, until the slices are tender, lightly browned, and have released most of their moisture, about 10 minutes total. (If you do this on nonstick baking sheets, the slices should brown on both sides without needing to be turned.) Remove from the oven and keep warm until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, slice the bread in half horizontally and spread the bottom half with some of the Basil Spread. Reserve any leftover spread for another use.
Divide the eggplant slices evenly among the bottom halves of the sandwiches and top each sandwich with half of the sliced provolone and half of the sliced mozzarella. Finally, top each sandwich with about 1 cup of the Olive Salad, and then place the top of the bread on top. Press lightly, cut each sandwich into quarters, and serve.Olive Salad:
1 quart large pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and slightly crushed
1 1/2 cups large Greek black olives, drained and pitted
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup pickled cauliflower, drained
1/4 bunch celery, sliced diagonally
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and left whole
1/3 cup cocktail onions, drained
1/4 cup small capers, drained
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl and mix well. Place in a non-reactive 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; it can keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts
*Cook's Note: Muffulettas are traditionally made on special round, seeded Italian breads made specifically for this purpose. The breads are rustic in texture and not too thick (about 2 to 2 1/2 inches high). If you cannot find a similar type of bread, you could either use a seeded Italian baguette cut into 6-inch lengths for 1 person (in which case you would need 4 of these portions for this recipe), or you could partially hollow out 2 thick round Italian breads or cut portions out of the middle to make the breads less thick.
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