The sharp, rich flavours of a muffuletta make this salad an ideal pairing for pizza

Joe Yonan

THE WASHINGTON POST – At first glance, you’d think a muffuletta, that famous New Orleans sandwich piled with cold cuts and a spicy olive salad, simply isn’t for vegetarians. At least not in its most traditional form.

And yet, even in the place that invented the sandwich, Central Grocery, you can order one without the meat. For those of us whose favourite parts of a muffuletta are the olive salad and the soft sesame bread that gives the sandwich its name, it makes perfect sense.

Without the bread?

Not the same thing, obviously. But this salad from Southern vegetarian authors Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks spoons the same sharp flavours – from marinated olives, vegetables and cheese – onto a bed of romaine lettuce. It’s from their Low-Carb Vegetarian Cookbook, and when I made it for a small, socially distanced dinner party on my backyard terrace recently, it got devoured.

I know Burks and Lawrence wouldn’t mind, because they’re two of the friendliest people in the business, but I added plenty of carbs back to the meal by serving the salad with pizza. The combination was just perfect. If you want to go a step further and make it into a sandwich, with whatever other components you’d like, none of us would fault you for that, either.

Muffuletta Salad. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

MUFFULETTA SALAD

Active: 10 minutes | Total: One hour 10 minutes

Eight servings

Make Ahead: The salad, before serving on the romaine, needs to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

Storage Notes: The marinated vegetables can be refrigerated – separate from the lettuce – for up to four days before serving. Leftovers that include the lettuce will get soggy.

INGREDIENTS

Three cups pitted spicy mixed marinated olives, drained

Two cups small cauliflower florets

Two large celery ribs

One medium carrot, peeled

12 pickled pepperoncini, drained and stemmed

One jar roasted red peppers, drained and thinly sliced

Three medium Roma tomatoes, diced

One and a half cups cubed provolone cheese

Four garlic cloves, minced

One cup extra-virgin olive oil

One cup white vinegar

One tablespoon Creole mustard

Two teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend

Six cups chopped romaine lettuce

STEPS

In the bowl of a food processor, using the slicer blade, slice the olives, cauliflower, celery, carrot and pepperoncini. (You can do this by hand if you don’t have a food processor.)

Transfer the sliced vegetables to a three-quart nonreactive container. Add the red peppers, tomatoes, cheese, garlic, oil, vinegar, mustard and Italian seasoning. Toss well to combine.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four days to let the mixture marinate. (It’s best to make it at least one day before serving so the flavours meld.)

To serve, use a slotted spoon to scoop the marinated vegetables and some of the marinade onto the romaine.

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.