Emeril’s Eggplant Muffaletta: The Final #SeriousSandwich

Well, we’ve made it to the end my friends … the end of Chef Emeril Lagasse’s #SeriousSandwich Cookalong here at Rhubarb and Honey. Are you a bit sad? I am … because there are many, many more sandwiches in Emeril’s new cookbook, Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor that I’d like to make.

BLT’s with fried green tomatoes and shrimp remoulade. Pork tonkatsu sandwiches with pickled vegetables. Smoked sausage sandwiches with beer-braised onions. Smoky grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. Duck confit paninis. Porchetta sandwiches with dandelion greens. Yep, that’s a start.

And I’m certain I’ll get to that laundry list of sandwiches in due time. But today? Today I bring you the final #SeriousSandwich I made. The sandwich Emeril has kicked up to notches unknown. My friends, I give you … Emeril’s eggplant muffaletta, my favorite #SeriousSandwich of all!

It all starts with crusty, chewy, rustic Italian bread. Next comes a thick slathering of homemade basil spread, which is then topped with slices of roasted eggplant. Spoon on a generous helping of homemade New Orleans-style olive salad (yes, I left the celery out), then cap it all off with a slice of cheese … warm it all together in the oven … oh my goodness … I do believe I’ve died and gone to heaven!

Now, I may have kicked this sandwich up a few notches myself too. In addition to the eggplant, I added a few slices of classic muffaletta meat — salami, mortadella, and capicola — to each sandwich. (What can I say? I was in full-on carnivore mode that day.) I also substituted pepper jack cheese for the mozzarella and provolone to take it just one notch higher. The end result?

A spicy, crunchy, chewy, meaty, earthy sandwich that almost leaves me speechless. It’s just so good. So, so good. It’s also proof why Emeril is one of America’s most beloved chefs. The man can create delicious food … and make it approachable for everyone. Thank you, Emeril, for allowing me to be part of your #SeriousSandwich Cookalong … it’s been a blast!

Emeril's Eggplant Muffaletta

Eggplant Muffuletta

From Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor; reprinted on Rhubarb and Honey with permission from the author and publisher

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds), 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
  • 4 tablespoons basil spread (recipe below)
  • 2 cups New Orleans-style olive salad (recipe follows)
  • 4 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese

Directions:

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 the 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.

Notes: Makes 4 sandwiches. Feel free to add more — or less – basil spread and/or olive salad if you want. You can also add slices of salami, mortadella, and capicola to the sandwich, and you can switch up the cheese as well.

Basil Spread

From Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor; reprinted on Rhubarb and Honey with permission from the author and publisher

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. 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.

2. Season with the salt. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes: Makes about 1/2 cup. And as Emeril says, “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.”

New Orleans-Style Olive Salad

From Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor; reprinted on Rhubarb and Honey with permission from the author and publisher

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart large pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups large Greek black olives, drained, pitted, and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pickled cauliflower, drained
  • 3 to 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved
  • 1/3 cup cocktail onions, drained
  • 1/4 cup nonpareil capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Emeril’s Original Essence or creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

Directions:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large nonreactive bowl and mix well.

2. Place in a large nonreactive jar (preferably glass) and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

3. The salad should be made at least 24 hours before using and only improves with age. You can keep it for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Notes: Makes about 2 quarts. And Emeril says, “Don’t let the ingredient list scare you — these are all familiar ingredients, and once this salad is stirred together, all the work is done. I personally love making a big batch of this because it’s so delicious on so many things and it lasts practically forever in the fridge … but if you like, it is easily halved for a smaller batch.”

Emeril's Olive Salad

So, have I thoroughly convinced you that you need to have a copy of Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor in your cookbook aresenal? I certainly hope so! Feeling lucky and want to try your hand at winning a copy? Then enter my giveaway … one truly lucky person will win a copy of Emeril’s new cookbook courtesy of William Morrow Cookbooks! Enter now!

Want to stay on top of all the #SeriousSandwich action? You can keep track by following all of the participating bloggers, the #SeriousSandwich hashtag on Twitter, and/or our Pinterest board as well. You can also follow Emeril on his website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest too.

Full disclosure: For my participation in the #SeriousSandwich Cookalong, I received an advance copy of Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches cookbook, a jar of Emeril’s Kicked-Up Horseradish Mustard, and Snapware plasticware. Upon completion of the #SeriousSandwich Cookalong, I will receive a $50 grocery reimbursement and a set of Emeril’s cookbooks. However, all of the opinions expressed at Rhubarb and Honey are my own.

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