I’ve been looking for an excuse to share these vegan muffaletta sandwiches, and there’s really no better opportunity than National Kale Day (October 5). They’re chock-full of kale, and just about every other vegetable you might like, and they’re so good you’ll never miss the meat.
A muffaletta is a Sicilian sandwich, made popular by Italian immigrants in New Orleans. It’s traditionally made with layers of meat, cheese, and marinated olives…but you don’t need all of those things to make an amazing sandwich. The key to a great vegan muffaletta is crispy bread and lots of colorful and flavorful layers.
To make these sandwiches, we started by cooking up some kale along with carrots, onions, zucchini, and two kinds of peppers. A layer of olive tapenade and a layer of thin-sliced roasted eggplant gave it extra texture and a salty “tang.”
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pasilla chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (other peppers may be substituted)
- 1 red hot cherry pepper, seeded and finely chopped (other peppers may be substituted)
- 1 10-oz bag of chopped kale (we used Cut 'N Clean Greens)
- 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 T. olive oil
- 6 large flat rolls (we used torta rolls, but you could slice up focaccia bread or any crusty French loaf)
- ½ cup olive tapenade
- Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and toss lightly in the oil until barely browned. Add the carrots, zucchini, onion, and peppers, and continue heating for 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Stir in the kale and continue cooking until the kale wilts and the volume is reduced. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, heat the mixture until bubbly, and then cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the eggplant: Toss the slices with the 2 T. olive oil, then lay out the slices on a baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Slice the bread in half lengthwise and toast it. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive tapenade on one face of the bread and top it with a slice of eggplant. Ladle on ½ to 1 cup of the kale mixture. Close the sandwich, slice in half, and serve hot.
Layer it up!
The secret to the kale-tomato mixture is that you can add just about any kind of vegetable you have on hand, and make it as spicy or not-spicy as you like, and it’ll still be tasty. Also, if you’re feeling a little crazy, you can change up the sandwich by adding a layer of grilled portobello mushrooms or pickled peppers.
And of course, if you don’t need to stick with strictly vegan standards, go ahead and add in a layer of sharp provolone. Just toast it along with the bread so it gets a little bit melted… Pure heaven.
Special note about National Kale Day: If you are in Southern California in Ventura or Los Angeles counties, you might just find yourself with some free kale on National Kale Day. San Miguel Produce Inc., the makers of Cut ‘N Clean Greens, is holding its third annual “Give ’em Kale” giveaway campaign. They will be hitting the streets and giving out more than 5,000 bunches of kale at eight locations to morning commuters. You can read more about the giveaway locations here.
Blogger disclosure: San Miguel Produce sent me samples of kale to promote National Kale Day. I did not receive compensation for this post.