|Emeril's Caldo Verde and Eggplant Muffuletta. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Like peas and carrots, salt and pepper, and oh, hmmm, Captain and Tennille, a sandwich needs a cup of soup to accompany, and the perfect partner for this Eggplant Muffuletta is a steamy bowl of caldo verde, Portuguese sausage and kale soup.
The soup is from Emeril’s blog, and is called New Style Caldo Verde because it cooks quickly, in under an hour, with the strips of kale still crisp-tender, not cooked into submission, bubbling away on the stovetop for several hours. Emeril calls it the one dish that represents his childhood, growing up in a Portuguese family in Fall River, Mass.
|Emeril's New Style Caldo Verde. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
The muffuletta is vegetarian version of a New Orleans classic. I made the muffuletta twice this week, and each time it was crave-worthy, with its garlicky goodness and briny olives. The first go-round, I used the large globe eggplants from the supermarket, and they turned out fine. My neighbor brought by some Asian eggplants from the CSA, and I think they're just a bit better. A little smaller, less propensity to bitterness, and no worries about peeling, they're so much easier to work with. I coated them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them for the same amount of time as the larger eggplants, about 10 minutes.
|Asian eggplants, ready for roasting. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Olive salad is key to a good muffuletta and Emeril includes a stupendous recipe in the book. Store-bought is a fine substitute, just look in the deli or pickle section of the supermarket.
|Olive salad. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
This is no ordinary muffuletta. Made with oven-roasted eggplant slices instead of salami, 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.
2 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf seeded Italian bread
Basil Spread (page 318)
2 cups New Orleans–Style Olive Salad (see note above, store-bought is fine)
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.
About 1/2 cup
This basil spread is multifunctional. You can add it to store-bought mayonnaise, toss it with pasta, turn it into a vinaigrette, or add it to vegetable soups. And of course, it’s fantastic on sandwiches.
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a food processor or blender, process the garlic and basil on high speed while adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Continue to process until well blended. Season with the salt. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Text and images copyright 2012, Lucy Mercer. With the exception of the recipe,
reprinted with permission from Morrow Cookbooks.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Morrow Books.
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