I would not be able to post today if I hadn’t had this one ready to post. I edited the photos and wrote up the recipes last week after I made the sandwich, but somehow never got around to posting it. All morning and afternoon today I worked on painting this ridiculously big Italian Villa style house in the hills of La Jolla. I didn’t realize how long I would be working, so I didn’t bring a lunch. Lucky for me, they have fruit trees lining their walk ways, so I munched on fresh fruit all day. The thing about these people that blows my mind is that they have this enormous beautiful house, with views of the ocean, and lush fruit trees around the property–but they don’t actually EAT the fruit. Uhhh…what? I could do without the huge house, and the ocean views (though those would both be nice things to have), but to have my own fruit trees–that is what I dream of. How can they NOT eat the fruit?! Not only is it fresh and free (which probably doesn’t matter to them), it tastes better than anything you can get in the stores. I honestly don’t get it.
Anyway, onto the post I prepared last week.
I got inspired to make these veggie muffalettas while I was browsing through one of my favorite vegan cookbooks Veganomicon. Though I no longer follow a vegan diet, I still use this book quite often. While flipping through the pages I paid special attention to the sandwich section, as I need some practice in that department. I don’t know why I have such a hard time coming up with sandwiches, it seems like it should be an easy thing to throw together, but perhaps it is because I have relied on the same sandwich for many, many years to fill my sandwich craving (peanut butter and banana). Now that I am baking all my own bread, I really want to start venturing out and making more creative sandwiches on a regular basis.
Well anyway, I saw this sandwich, or a variation of it inside Veganomicon, a quick scan over the list of ingredients, and I knew this was the one. The sandwich in the book is called ‘Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffaletta’, but because I hate following recipes like they read, and so it is slightly different than that in the book, I am just going to call it a veggie muffaletta. The recipe called for a peasant style loaf of bread, or something with a thick crust. I wanted to go beyond that and make real muffaletta bread. I googled ‘muffaletta bread recipe’ and this recipe from NOLA Cuisine showed up. This recipe made the tastiest and most perfect bread for this sandwich.
- 1 Cup Warm Water (110 degrees F)
- 1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Bread Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Iodized Salt
- 2 Tbsp Lard or Vegetable Shortening
- Sesame Seeds
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer, stir well and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until good and foamy.
- In another bowl mix the flours, salt, and lard in a bowl and work in the fat with your hands until broken up into very small pieces. When the yeast is foamy, fit the mixer with a dough hook attachment and gradually add the flour on low speed until its all incorporated. Scrape the sides down between additions. When the dough comes together, turn it onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary.
- Alternatively, you can let the machine do the work, but for me, bread is a touch thing. Coat a large bowl with the Olive Oil, then put the dough in, turning once to coat both sides. Cover loosely with a clean dry towel, or plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
- Punch the dough down and shape into a flat round about 9 inches across (it will expand to about 10″.) Place the dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, about 2-3 Tbsp should do it, then press them lightly into the dough. Loosely cover the loaf and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- When the dough has risen, remove the cover, gently brush with the egg wash then gently place into a preheated 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F for an additional 25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
For the tapenade type spread I smeared on the bread this is what I did.
- 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 cup green olives
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 4 cloves pickled garlic (I had green olives that had been marinated in chopped garlic, so didn’t add anymore)
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil
- 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 11 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until it is a paste like mixture. This makes far more than could possibly be used on sandwiches for four people. I have been using the spread all week in other ways, it is quite a strong spread, but a tiny bit on sliced bread is really tasty.
For the bulk of the sandwich I used the same ingredients, but did it in my own way. I grilled slices of eggplant, added roasted red pepper (where canned), and fresh spinach.