Whether you enjoy football or not, it’s hard not to like the food that goes with it and this Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe is no exception! Like many football food recipes such as Pimento Cheese or Stuffed Potato Skins, this is not for the calorie conscious. It is, however, for people who love bold flavors, and that’s what makes it a favorite in our house.
My husband was a big fan of these sandwiches, which we first tried together on our honeymoon in New Orleans. The sandwich originated there at the tiny but legendary Central Grocery and Deli in the French Quarter, a place so small it doesn’t even have a website! It does, however, have quite the reputation.
According to the daughter of the store’s owner, the sandwich originated when her father saw how Sicilian farmers would bring their wares to the store, then order salami and other cured meats, a little olive salad, cheese, and muffaletta bread. Then they would sit on crates or barrels, balancing their food on their knees, and trying to eat. Finally he suggested making a sandwich out of it all, and thus the Muffaletta Sandwich was born.
Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe
A Muffaletta Sandwich is basically a hollowed-out round, peasant-style loaf of bread filled with olive salad, mortadella, salami, and provolone cheese. Some folks add ham, others use turkey instead of the mortadella, which is a bologna-style meat containing at least 15% chunks of pork fat. (Like I said, this is not for the calorie-conscious!) Either way, be sure to ask your deli clerk to cut the meats and cheeses on the thin side or your sandwich will be too big to eat!
The olive salad is central to this sandwich’s flavor, so don’t try substituting store-bought olive tapenade for it. The flavor just won’t be right! It’s an easy spread to make, though: just pulse black and green olives, capers, garlic, flat leaf parsley, olive oil and red wine vinegar in your food processor. Or chop everything by hand if you’d rather, then stir in the oil and vinegar. Once made, be sure to let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours) for the flavors to combine.
Meanwhile, slice the bread loaf in half horizontally. Then, using your fingers or a spoon, hollow out as much of the bread as you can without making holes in the crust. This step is important because it makes room for your sandwich ingredients and, again, ensures you’ll be able to actually bite through a slice. I was having a bad arthritis day so I didn’t get mine hollowed out as much as I’d like, but you get the idea from the photo.
Once your olive salad has finished sitting, spread half of it on the bottom half of the bread loaf. Go ahead and get it all the way to the edges so you get that big flavor in each and every bite. Top this with a layer of mortadella followed by layers of salami and cheese — or cheese and salami, the order doesn’t really matter. When you’ve finished piling on the meats, top them with the remaining olive salad, including any juices that have accumulated in the bowl.
Next, top with the other half of the bread and press down on the sandwich so the juices on the olive salad work their way through the bread. That, too, helps make it easier to eat a slice without dislocating your jaw! Wrap the whole thing up tightly in plastic wrap or butcher’s paper and refrigerate it for a couple of hours. To serve, just unwrap and slice it into 6 to 8 wedges like you would a pie.
Whether to heat it before serving is really a matter of choice. The authentic version is served at room temperature, but I like it best warmed up enough for the cheese to melt. It’s delicious either way, so it’s really your call to make. One thing I’m certain of: you’re going to call this yummy, too!
- For the olive salad:
- 1 cup pitted black olives, drained
- 1 cup pitted green olives, drained
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- ⅓ cup roasted red bell pepper
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sandwich:1 round peasant-style bread loaf (about 7 inches diameter)
- ⅓ lb. thinly-sliced Genoa salami
- ⅓ lb. thinly-sliced mortadella
- ⅓ lb. thinly-sliced provolone cheese
- Make the olive salad:
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic cloves until finely minced.
- Add the parsley and roasted red pepper, then pulse 3 to 5 times.
- Add the olives, capers, vinegar, and olive oil. Pulse repeatedly until the olives are chopped but not minced.
- Transfer the olive salad to an air-tight container and let it sit 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours) while the flavors combine.
Make the sandwich:
- Slice the bread loaf in half horizontally. Using your fingers or a spoon, hollow out the soft parts of the bread without making holes in the crust.
- Spread the bottom half of the loaf with half of the olive salad. Reserve the other half.
- Add a layer of mortadella, followed by a layer of salami, then a layer of cheese.
- Spread the remaining half of the olive salad on top of the sandwich, pouring on any juices that have accumulated in the bowl.
- Top with the other half of the bread and press down firmly. Wrap the entire sandwich in plastic wrap or butcher's paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours while flavors combine. (You can even make this a day ahead -- it'll taste even better!)
- To serve: unwrap the sandwich and cut into 6 or 8 wedges, like you would a pie. Serve hot or cold, it's up to you.