Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Muffuletta Panini

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The first time VB said he wanted to make muffuletta sandwiches, I said, mofo-what-the-H-E-double-hockey-sticks-are-you-talking-about? Muffuletta sandwiches are Italian sandwiches generally consist of various deli meats and cheeses smothered in olive salad. We made it once on a prior occasion and... it wasn't very good. The main problem was that the olive salad, which is a pureed paste of brined or marinated vegetables, has a lot of moisture that made the bread soggy. Also, we added feta cheese, which unfortunately has a vomit-like taste when mixed with olives. Anyways, I'm going to spare everyone of more cringe-inducing descriptions and leave it at that.

This second attempt, I simplified the olive salad mix and added more fresh vegetables. For the olive salad, I processed 1/2 cup of black olives, 1/2 cup of green olives, 4 marinated artichoke hearts, and 1 cup of Gardiniera (a mixture Italian marinated vegetables), plus juice from half a lemon into a thick paste. To assemble the sandwich, I split ciabatta bread in half, layered in provolone cheese, roasted red bell peppers, broiled eggplant slices, lightly roasted tomato slices, olive salad and a handful of arugula on top. I wrap the assembled sandwich in aluminum foil and turn the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone and a cast iron skillet inside. I put the sandwich on top of pizza stone and weigh it down with the cast iron skillet for 10 to 15 minutes. The result is a delicious sandwich with crispy, not soggy, bread.

I really like how these flavors work together -- the salty olive salad, the sweet roasted bell peppers, the bitter arugula and the creamy provolone make this a harmonious and well-balanced sandwich.

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