Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Fabulous Meatless Monday Lunch
For my Meatless Monday lunch, I made my new favorite Italian cheese and olive salad Panini with a Mediterranean white bean salad. I enjoyed it so much that I announced to DH that if I had a restaurant, this would be on the menu. I’m afraid I’m a bit obsessed with my Panini press – W told me this morning that he thinks I use the Panini press more than I use the stove. Monday’s Panini was a vegetarian-take on a muffuletta. Muffalettas originated in New Orleans and are made with a combination of Italian deli meats and cheeses -- capicola, salami, mortadella, provolone and emmentaler – and olive salad. During the years I lived in Louisiana, muffulettas were never a big deal to me. I’d occasionally pick one up at Central Grocery if I was in the quarter, but I didn’t crave them or keep quart jars of olive salad in the fridge. But something happened at Christmas when my SIL made muffulettas for DH’s family get-together -- there is not enough mortadella or olive salad in the world to satisfy my on-going craving. I had two while in Louisiana, then bought the ingredients to take to Florida where I had two more. The day after we returned, the meat was all gone, but I still had cheese and olive salad so I made a vegetarian version with provolone, mozzarella and olive salad for my Meatless Monday lunch. Olive salad is made of chopped olives and Gardiniera, marinated in olive oil, vinegar, garlic and seasonings. I’ll try making some when the two quart jars I brought back with me are gone.
On Monday, I sliced in half a four-inch piece of wheat baguette and topped it with the last slice and a half of mozzarella, a couple of heaping tablespoons of olive salad, and about a tablespoon of grated Italian cheese blend. I sprayed the outside with olive oil and toasted it in the press. I wish I had a picture, but I couldn’t wait to eat it! The white bean salad I had made the night before was the perfect side – cannellini beans, garlic, shallots, lemon juice, olive oil and basil.
While I’m looking forward to splurging on a traditional Muffaletta, I’ll happily eat my new vegetarian version anytime.