Grilled Eggplant Muffuletta Sandwich with basil pesto, olive tapenade, roasted peppers and fresh mozzarella- a giant make-ahead sandwich that serves 6- 8, perfect for picnics or workweek lunches.
Basil Pesto ( vegan)
If using eggplant, preheat grill to med-high heat. ( Alternative you can roast the eggplant in 400F oven until golden and tender)
Slice the eggplant into ¼ inch disks, brush with olive oil and season with salt.
While grill is warming up, make the pesto. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse repeatedly until you achieve desired consistency. Scrape out into a bowl.
Using the same food processor ( no need to rinse) make the olive tapenade. Add the parsley and garlic first and pulse until uniformly chopped. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the capers, which you will stir in at the end. Pulse repeatedly until nicely chopped but not smooth. Place in a bowl, stir in capers. Add chili flakes if you like.
Grill the eggplant, searing both sides nicely 4-5 minutes each side, turning heat down if it’s too hot, then place eggplant slices in a foil packet to steam for a few minutes to cook all the way through. It is imperative your eggplant is cooked through.
Cut loaf of bread horizontally in half, leaving a good inch on the bottom layer. Spread the bottom with half the pesto. Build the sandwich on a cutting board if possible. Top with eggplant (salt it now, if needed), roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, olive tapenade (I used about 3/4) and arugula. Spread the top layer of bread with remaining pesto and place it on top. Press down gently. Either serve right away and cut sections with a sharp knife, or refrigerate it, placing on a layer of paper towels over a plate or platter. Cover with plastic wrap. Enjoy for the next few days.
I will often make this with sliced organic turkey breast instead of grilled eggplant during other times of the year. It saves time, because there’s no grilling.