Vegetarian Eggplant Muffuletta Recipe

The muffuletta is one of New Orleans' best-known dishes, and in fact ranks as one of the nation's truly iconic sandwiches right up there with the Nashville hot chicken and the Philly cheesesteak. While a classic muffuletta recipe is made with Italian cold cuts such as prosciutto, mortadella, and soppressata as well as provolone cheese, recipe developer Tanika Douglas has chosen to make a vegetarian version here with grilled eggplant and Jarlsberg cheese.

Douglas enthuses that this vegetarian sandwich is "bursting with vibrant flavor" and eye-catching colors. "For me, the beauty is in the incredible balance of bold flavors," she says. "We have the salty, fresh deliciousness of the olive salad; creamy, nutty Jarlsberg cheese; and sweet roasted red peppers." Douglas also calls eggplant a wonderful alternative to cured meats in muffulettas, not only because of its nutritional properties, but also because of the smoky flavor it takes on when grilled.

Collect the ingredients for this vegetarian eggplant muffuletta

The 3 main ingredients for this sandwich are bread (a round muffuletta loaf), eggplant, and Jarlsberg cheese (or another variety since, as Douglas admits, "the options are endless when it comes to cheese.") Other cheeses she suggests include Gruyère, Gouda, mozzarella, or the provolone traditionally used to make muffulettas.

You're also going to need olives, semi-dried tomatoes, parsley, capers, garlic, pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil to make the olive relish that serves as a condiment for the sandwich, plus some roasted red peppers and arugula as toppings. If you can't find semi-dried tomatoes where you shop, Douglas says sun-dried tomatoes are an alternative, but they "have more of an intense flavor to them."

Make the olive relish

Chop the olives, tomatoes, parsley, and capers. Don't worry about getting too fine a dice with any of these (particularly the capers, which are already tiny), as Douglas says a rough chop will work fine. Once these ingredients are chopped, stir in the garlic, which should also be peeled and minced, along with the pepper, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Grill the eggplant

Set a grill pan on a burner turned to medium-high, then drizzle in the rest of the olive oil. Plunk some eggplant slices into the pan and grill them on the first side for 2 minutes, then flip them over onto the other side. The eggplant is done when it's tender and a little bit charred, with Douglas explaining that char "provides a wonderful subtle smokiness." Be careful not to burn the eggplant though, as too much char could turn the vegetable bitter instead. In order to avoid over-crowding the pan, you may need to work in batches to cook all of the eggplant.

Assemble the muffuletta

Slice the round bread loaf right through the middle, then spread half of the olive relish over the bottom in an even layer. (Douglas uses a spoon to smooth it out.) Layer half of the eggplant on top of the olives, followed by the peppers and half of the cheese. Put the rest of the eggplant on top of the cheese, then the rest of the cheese on top of the eggplant. The arugula goes on top of that. Spread the rest of the olive relish on the other side of the loaf, pressing the condiment down into the bread. That way, it will stay on when you pick up the bread and use it to cap off the sandwich.

The final step before you chow down is to use a serrated knife to slice the sandwich into 4 quarters. Even if you aren't going to eat the muffuletta right away, it's best to cut it up before refrigerating it. Douglas says each quarter will last for about 3 days if wrapped in plastic, though they won't taste as fresh.

Vegetarian Eggplant Muffuletta Recipe
5 from 44 ratings
This vegetarian twist on a muffuletta has none of the cured meats and all of the same cheesiness, sweet peppers, and olive goodness as the original.
Prep Time
Cook Time
eggplant sandwiches on wooden board
Total time: 18 minutes
  • 1 ½ cups green olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • 1 large round flat white bread loaf (about 10 inches in diameter), sliced in half
  • 7 ounces roasted red peppers
  • 8 slices Jarlsberg cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  1. To make the olive relish, combine the olives, tomatoes, parsley, capers, garlic, pepper, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and drizzle in the remaining oil.
  3. Grill the eggplant slices for 2 minutes on each side or until tender, working in batches as necessary, then set aside.
  4. To assemble the muffuletta, spread ½ of the olive relish onto the bottom side of the bread and smooth it down into an even layer.
  5. Top the olive relish with ½ of the eggplant slices, all of the peppers, and 4 cheese slices. Finish by layering on the rest of the eggplant and cheese, followed by the arugula.
  6. Spoon the rest of the olive relish onto the top side of the loaf, pressing it so it adheres, and close the sandwich.
  7. Cut the muffuletta into quarters before serving.
Calories per Serving 433
Total Fat 32.0 g
Saturated Fat 12.2 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 52.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.1 g
Dietary Fiber 7.6 g
Total Sugars 9.0 g
Sodium 962.4 mg
Protein 19.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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