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Dec 6, 2010 12:53 PM

Vegetarian Muffulettas?

Who makes a good vegetarian muffuletta? (I realize there are many variants, but I am going with the Central Grocery orthography.) Central Grocery makes a pretty decent veggie muff, I think, but there are others out there. One of the local publications - maybe Gambit or New Orleans Magazine - ran a column on this a year or more ago, but I foolishly did not clip and save.

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  1. Oops, sorry for the post, jumped into the wrong forum.

    2 Replies
    1. re: suziemcw

      Never heard of a vegetarian muffeletta. The whole point of the muffeletta is to showcase the meats - salami, mortadella and whatever else the sandwich maker puts on it.

      Central grocery does not make mufflettas to order. They make one sandwich and you get either a half or a whole one and you can buy a bag of chips and a drink to go with it.

      Now there might be other delis that can make an olive salad/provolone sandwich on italian bread, but I doubt that would still be considered a muffeletta. Maybe Stein's Deli on Magazine?

      1. re: mimadeli

        central will make one with the meats omitted if you ask. i wouldn't order it but i've seen it done.

    2. What defines a muffuletta is the bread. For a vegetarian, the whole point of the sandwich could hardly be the meats: it would be the mufuletta bread, the olive salad, the emmentaler and provolone and/or other cheeses and whatever else the maker includes. Shiloh is correct in stating that Central Grocery will make a veggie muff. My question is who else does so? Stein's is a possibility, but an offbeat one. Their menu includes a "Muphuletta (Philly Style)" that is made with ciabatta bread.

      9 Replies
      1. re: erikschwarz

        if you don't have any luck with this query, what i would do if i were you is find who makes the best muffalettas and simply ask for one with no meat. for me, that's central grocery above all else. i've also had a very good one at nor-joe's in old metairie. the frenchuletta at liuzza's on bienville is another favorite of mine, and i'm sure it would also be excellent without meat. my point is that every place that sells a muff sells a veg muff. you just have to ask them for it. good luck!

        1. re: Shiloh

          I'm sorry but a vegetarian muffulletta is like a virgin bloody mary. The olive salad playing against the cured meats is the essence of the muffuletta. You can have a virgin bloody mary but what's the point. Bread, olive salad, and cheese are not a muffuletta.

          1. re: Edward Tyson

            still could be tasty though. i was thinking about liuzza's frenchuletta, which is heated to the point that the cheese melts. What's not to love about olive salad on toasted french bread soaked in olive oil, dripping with melted cheese. If it doesn't measure up to a muffaletta, don't call it a muffaletta.

            1. re: Shiloh

              NorJoe's used to do a white a muff, with sliced chicken breast and they served it hot. It was outstanding.

            2. re: Edward Tyson

              Sorry, but the essence and in fact definition of "muffuletta" is the bread. You can look it up. As for the Bloody Virgin, it does not really buttress your argument. Vodka is among the most flavorless of spirits, so the difference in taste between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the drink is minimized. A brandy-less Milk Punch or a Sazerac sans rye would be a better analogy.

              Some people have compelling reasons to abstain from meat and/or alcohol, just as others feel compelled to partake of same. I think the chowhounding spirit is to be supportive or at least accepting of each others' choices and to enhance our enjoyment of life by exchanging helpful information and discussing topics of mutual interest.

          2. re: erikschwarz

            All the recent talk of muffalettas, and I just went to Nor-Joe's to get one. The muffaletta was warmed, the cheese melted, and the bread thick and fresh, made nice and spongy from the olive salad. It was delicious.

            So I looked up muffaletta and yes the bread from Sicily is called a muffaletta - a round sesame bread. However in the Wikipedia article there was a reference to a story about the origins of the New Orleans muffaletta, as follows:

            "One of the most interesting aspects of my father's grocery is his unique creation, the muffuletta sandwich. The muffuletta was created in the early 1900's when the Farmers' Market was in the same area as the grocery. Most of the farmers who sold their produce there were Sicilian. Every day they used to come of my father's grocery for lunch. They would order some salami, some ham, a piece of cheese, a little olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or round muffuletta bread. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately. The farmers used to sit on crates or barrels and try to eat while precariously balancing their small trays covered with food on their knees. My father suggested that it would be easier for the farmers if he cut the bread and put everything on it like a sandwich; even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. He experimented and found that the thicker, braided Italian bread was too hard to bite but the softer round muffuletta was ideal for his sandwich. In very little time, the farmers came to merely ask for a "muffuletta" for their lunch."

            Here is the link


            So yes, in your context, the bread is the muffaletta. However we must agree to disagree in the context of the New Orleans muffaletta which is defined by the combination of salami, ham, cheese, olive salad and Italian bread.

            Nor-Joe Importing Co
            505 Frisco Ave, Metairie, LA

            1. re: mimadeli

              I am familiar with the text above, in which Marie Lupo Tusa describes the origins of the sandwich at her family's Central Grocery. Marie does not say that vegetarian versions are not muffulettas, and the fact that the Central Grocery offers them is evidence against your contention to the contrary. Not sure why you are so bent on denying that kukubura, Susy Wong, suziemcw and the rest of us are partaking of muffulettas. Please enjoy yours with meat and leave us enjoy ours without.

              1. re: erikschwarz

                Here's the deal: If you walked into a place and said "gimme a muffaletta" they would hand you a sandwich with meat. Plain and simple. However, if you said "gimme a meatless muffaletta" as some of us have done they would hand you a sandwich without meat. Might not be the typical traditional version, but it's clearly something that enough people want that I believe it's even up on the sign at Central.

                Heck, if you asked for a cheeseless muffaletta (if you were seriously lactose intolerant) or olive saladless muffaletta (if you had no soul) then they would surely provide you with those alterations as well.

                1. re: kukubura

                  "if you had no soul": LOL. My partner, a native New Orleanian, does not care for olives. Which leaves more for me!

          3. The above was meant to be a reply particular to Mr. Tyson. Thanks to all for the tips and suggestions. Looks as though some muff exploration is in order!

            2 Replies
            1. At a special request on a catering order, I made vegetarian muffulettas. They consisted of grilled portabella (which acts as a great meat substitute), grilled onions and tri-colored peppers along with the usual provolone cheese and olive salad mix. The grilled items were allowed to get back to room temperature before assembling. I was told that they were a big hit at the party.

              I have considered putting them on my regular menu.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefairline

                My hat is off to you, chefairline, for what sounds like a delicious sandwich. My only cavil: I belong to a portabella hate group. I enjoy every other kind of mushroom though - excepting poisonous toadstools, which should be reserved for special occasions - and I suppose various mushrooms could be substituted for portabellas.

              2. Have had this at both Central and Napoleon House and I think Napoleon wins in this case. The warmth of the cheese enhanced the fattiness that was lacking by the missing meat. A damn fine sandwich.

                Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
                500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130