First time I’ve ever heard of muffaletta sandwich was last year, when I was skiing in Colorado, and a friend of mine started raving about this wonderful sandwich she had the day before at a restaurant at the top of a mountain. The next day the word “muffaletta” would not get out of my head (and vocabulary) so we skied to that restaurant and bought ourselves 2 muffaletta sandwiches. I still remember biting into a crunchy marinated olive mix and thin slices of ham, salami, and provolone cheese – all of that goodness wrapped up in a freshly baked Italian-style bread which soaked in the olive oil and other flavors from marinated olives, enjoying every bite, wishing this sandwich never ended… It was THE ultimate deliciousness at 11,000 feet, and a highlight of my skiing season.
So what is a muffaletta sandwich (sometimes also spelled as muffUletta vs. muffAleta)? It turns out it’s a classic sandwich with Italian roots originating from New Orleans. Muffuletta is actually a name for a special type of Sicilian bread used specifically to make this sandwich. You can also use a single loaf of Italian-style bread or foccacia bread – enough to serve 4-6 people, depending on your appetites. For a shortcut, I even used sandwich buns, sandwich ciabatta bread in particular goes exceptionally well.
What really makes this sandwich is the olive mix. I usually go to the olive bar at a grocery store and buy an assortment of different types of olives (black, green, and any other type you can find), pickled small peppers, and pickled vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, celery. Just like what you can see on this photo:
I then finely chop all these pickled olives and vegetables, using food processor, until they become almost like a spread, but still crunchy. Then, I spread this olive mix on BOTH sides of the sandwich bread – on the bottom and top pieces of bread, spreading the mix to saturate the bread with oil. Just like this, or you can be even more generous:
Finally I layer the bottom slice of the sandwich bread with salami, ham, cheese and remaining olive mix if desired and top with the top piece of bread. That’s it! The sandwich is ready, and when wrapped and refrigerated, it gets even better the next day!
Prep time: 30 min
Ingredients for olive salad:
- 1 cup assorted pitted marinated olives (of different colors, green and black, and any others)
- 1/3 cup pickled small green and red peppers (pimiento)
- 1/3 cup pickled mix of crunchy vegetables, such as pickled carrots, pickled cauliflower, pickled celery
- some marinated pepperoncini (if desired)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Ingredients for sandwich:
- 1 loaf Italian-style or focaccia bread or ciabatta bread (enough to make 4 sandwiches) or 4 sandwich buns
- 6 ounces salami thinly sliced
- 6 ounces ham, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Makes 4-6 servings
1) To make olive salad, combine olives, green and red peppers, pickled vegetables, capers, pepperoncini, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely chopped but still coarse and crunchy, just like you see on my photos.
2) Slice the loaf of bread in half length-wise (optionally, you can remove a little bit of the insides of the bread to make room for the olive mix). Or, if you’re using sandwich buns, slice each bun in half.
3) Spread about 1/3 cup of the olive mix on the bottom and top pieces of bread, spreading the mixture to saturate the bread with oil. Layer the bottom bread with the slices of salami, ham, cheese, and remaining olive mix to taste. Top with the top piece of bread.
4) Cut this stuffed loaf of bread into 4 or 6 sandwiches (depending on your appetite). Serve immediately, or, alternatively, wrap each sandwich tightly in paper or plastic wrap and let sandwiches sit for about 30 minutes to let the oil soak into the bread. Unwrap and serve!
I am sharing this recipe with Shine Supper Club as part of their Proof Sandwiches are the Best and Easiest Summer Dinner Round up (August 2013).