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Vegetarian Muffuletta

This sandwich keeps well after it's made, so it's perfect to pack for a picnic, or for your lunch at work today (James Brosher)

We are on the road for our annual family trip to what's become one of our favorite places: Lake Ouachita. My aunt and uncle own a houseboat business on the lake, and we spend a few nights every year on one of the boats with my parents, in-laws, siblings and cousins. It's the best kind of vacation because we spend everyday in or on the water.

Because I come from a family full of foodies, much of the planning for this trip involves figuring who is going to bring what snacks or drinks. We have a cooler full of our favorite Indiana craft beer, Cardinal Spirits Maui Mules, homemade pesto and Impostor Al Pastor marinade from Alison Roman's Dining In cookbook. I also packed plenty of healthy snacks and homemade sandwiches to get us through the nine hour drive to Arkansas. Stocking up ahead of time is so much healthier, cheaper and tastier than grabbing snacks at gas stations and fast food joints.

My all-time favorite sandwich is the vegetarian muffuletta from the Garlic Press Cafe in my hometown. I'm not sure what inspired me to order it for the first time, because it was full of ingredients that I'd never tried growing up. But I was blown away by the first bite. The sandwich had only a handful of components, but was packed with amazing salty, sweet and acidic flavors. It was unlike any sandwich I'd tasted before, and nothing else has compared since.

Sadly, while the Garlic Press is still open, the cafe is now a popcorn and candy shop. The closure led me to create my own version of the veggie muffuletta I loved so much. I tend to tweak the toppings based on what's in my pantry and fridge, but the recipe I'm sharing below is the standard base for the sandwich. I love adding sliced tomato and fresh basil this time of year.

I will warn you: this sandwich can get messy. If you plan to eat it on the go, wrap the sandwich in waxed paper before slicing it in half and storing the sandwich in a plastic bag or glass container. Peel back the wax paper when you're ready to eat, keeping it wrapped around the bottom of the sandwich to catch anything that falls.


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