Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Gluten-Free] Napa Valley


It's not very hard to be happy in Napa Valley. There are beautiful mountains, rows and rows of gorgeous grape vines, and oh yea, the most amazing wine! But do you know what really makes me jump for joy in Napa Valley? The delicious gluten-free food!

I know, I know. I've already gushed about my love for Napa Valley's food before. But when Patrick and I took our most recent trip there, I just couldn't believe how amazing it was. Everything is local, everything is fresh. Somehow everything is simple, yet it's the tastiest thing you've ever had. Plus, there are gluten-free options everywhere! One of my favorite spots is the Oakville Grocery.  




It's located right on the main road, but if you're not looking for it, you'll drive right past this little gem. Founded in 1881, it is the oldest operating grocery store in California! It's basically like a country store meets gourmet market. And man, can they make some mean sandwiches. Just check out this menu!  

The first time I went in, I starting jumping up and down when I saw the little sign on the right, "We have Gluten-Free Bread!" They make everything to order and they use clean equipment when you tell them you have an allergy.  

Patrick and I ate here three times during our four day trip. We absolutely loved the Cuban and the Chicken with Gruyere, but our favorite sandwich was the Oakville Muffaletta. My favorite thing to do, is get a sandwich and a glass of wine (yes, it's a grocery store that sells wine by the glass!) and eat outside on their patio that overlooks a beautiful vineyard. But one time, we took the sandwiches to-go and went hiking.


Hiking may not be the first thing you think of when you picture a trip to Napa Valley, but when a local gave us a tip to go on the Oat Hill Mining Trail, we knew we had to try it! We hiked up the mountain for almost two hours before settling down to eat. It was one of the best picnics I ever had! It was also the quickest picnic I ever had. What on earth would make me scarf down an amazing gluten-free pressed sandwich? Extreme hunger? Nope. This...


Mountain lion tracks are not quite what you want to see while carrying two hot sandwiches. Right next to the track was a lovely trail of droppings from it's battle with some berries. Let's just say the berries won. Whoa man. This was suppose to be a nice romantic hike in Napa Valley, not a survival test. Then to top it all off, Patrick says, "Well, he was probably hungry for meat." Great. I've never eaten a sandwich so fast in my life!


We never actually met the mountain lion who's path we crossed. And that was just fine by me! The hike gave us a beautiful perspective on Napa Valley. The views were breathtaking! After the hike, we celebrated our mountain lion encounter with a wine tasting at Silver Oak Cellars, dinner at Bouchon Bistro (order the mussels!), and dessert at Gott's Roadside, all in our hiking clothes. It was easily one of the best days of my entire life!

When we got back home,  I couldn't get that wonderful day out of my head. I wanted to make something that reminded us of our epic encounter with a 200-pound mountain lion (What? Can't a girl exaggerate a little?). My mind immediately went to that wonderful, spicy Oakville Muffaletta that we ate on our hiking picnic.  


I've been making Muffalettas for years now! Originally from New Orleans, it's a hot sandwich that's cheesy and meaty with a spicy olive mix . I make it every year on Patrick's birthday. That man could eat a Muffaletta anytime, anywhere. He is Cajun after all! But there was something special about the one from the Oakville Grocery. The olive mix was spicier and it was bright red from roasted red peppers. I just had to give it a go!

Here is what I came up with!  Now, once I take a bite of this sandwich, it takes me right back to the day of our epic Napa Valley hike. Except, without the mountain lions... whew!

Gluten-Free Spicy Muffaletta Sandwich

Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices of gluten-free bread
¼ cup Roasted Red Pepper-Olive 
       Mix (recipe follows)
2 slices of provolone cheese
2 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
3 slices of ham
2 slices of salami
2 slices of hot sopressata


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until just slightly toasted, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven.

Place the roasted red pepper-olive mix on one slice of bread. Top the olive mixture with provolone cheese. Place the mozzarella cheese on the other slice of bread. Bake in the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese is just melted. Remove from oven.

Top the provolone cheese with salami. Top the mozzarella cheese with sopressata and then ham. Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the meat is warm (careful to not burn the bread).

Remove from oven. Place the slice of bread with the ham on top of the slice with the olive mix. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Roasted Red Pepper-Olive Mix

Makes 2 ½ cups olive mix


1 ½ cup sliced olives, drained
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces roasted red pepper slices
3-4 dashes hot sauce

In a medium bowl, mix together olives, 1 cup olive oil, capers, celery, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and black pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Place the 8 ounces of roasted red pepper slices and the hot sauce in a food processor. Blend on high. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil while the motor is running. Blend until completely pureed. 

Add the roasted red pepper mixture to the olive mixture and stir until combined.  

Keep in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge. The longer it sits, the better it gets! It's great on a sandwich and it's also great on a nice piece of toasted gluten-free bread :)




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