Words and images Amber Bremner
A muffuletta is an Italian sandwich invented in New Orleans, typically layering meats, cheese, and olives inside a loaf of great bread. Here I’ve assembled layers of tasty plant-based antipasti inside a loaf of sourdough. Everything is done the day before, so the loaf can chill (and set somewhat) overnight before enjoying sliced into wedges the next day. This is a seriously satisfying and actually quite healthy sandwich, packed with a good portion of your 5+ a day.
1 good quality loaf of bread (I prefer sourdough for its sturdy texture, and ability to still taste quite fresh the next day)
1 large eggplant, sliced 0.5 cm thick
2 chargrilled capsicums (DIY or from a jar)
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 x 400g can white beans (cannellini or butter beans), rinsed and drained
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (I use a mix of green and black)
1 clove garlic, finely grated
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
large handful of rocket
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 210°C.
Cut eggplant into 0.5 cm slices and arrange on a baking tray. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then bake for 20–25 minutes (turning halfway) until golden brown and tender. Set aside to cool.
While the eggplant is cooking, slow fry the red onions in a splash of olive oil, stirring often. Once they’re soft and starting to caramelise, add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp brown sugar. Cook another minute or so until glossy and sticky. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl roughly mash the white beans, then stir through parsley, olives, garlic, lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and a good grind of salt and pepper.
Once you’re ready to assemble, carefully cut the top third off your loaf of bread and set aside (this will become the lid). Use a small sharp knife to cut around the inside of the loaf, leaving about a 2 cm margin, then use your hands to remove the interior of the loaf. Save this bread to make breadcrumbs or croutons (or pop it in the freezer until you can deal with it).
Into the loaf, layer the cooked eggplant, a large handful of rocket, the chargrilled capsicum, the white bean mixture, and caramelized onions. Put the lid on, then tightly wrap the loaf and put it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to eat, slice into wedges to serve.