Central Grocery, New Orleans, home of the original muffuletta. A must stop on any visit to this fun and lively Southern city. Yes, you will have to stand in line, which often snakes out the door and past several other stores, to get one of the best sandwiches you’ve ever eaten. And yes, it is well, well, well worth the wait – trust me, a true line-hater if there ever was one.
What makes this sandwich world famous (even if you can’t enjoy it overlooking the Mississippi River with an ice-cold beer) is the incredible olive salad, which Central Grocery also sells as a side and is available to order online. However, my version is so easy to make and it’s cheaper, too. You will have leftovers, which is fine because this olive salad can be used a variety of ways in addition to a muffuletta ingredient, and it stores well in the fridge.
Another key ingredient to this muffuletta recipe is the round load of Italian bread with sesame seeds. Since I couldn’t find a round loaf after going to three different stores, I settled on an oblong loaf and just trimmed the edges some. As long as you have the sesame seeds, you’re good. I overstuffed my muffuletta with meat and cheese, but feel free to use less if desired.
Olive Salad Ingredients
- 12 ounce jar giardiniera, drained
- 1 cup black olives, chopped
- 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
- 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- ½ cup celery, diced small
- 3 green onions, sliced small (both green and white parts)
- 5 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the oil and vinegar. I use my Pampered Chef salad chopper to chop all of the ingredients to my desired consistency (Central Grocery leaves the olives and giardiniera a bit more intact.)
Drain the olive mixture in a colander for at least 15 minutes. Press down on top of the salad with a paper towel or spoon to remove as much liquid as possible and transfer to a bowl.
Add the oil and vinegar and mix well. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate at least for 4 hours, preferably overnight, so that the flavors have time to intensify. Mix well before serving.
Overstuffed Muffuletta Ingredients (Serves 2 to 4)
- 10-inch round loaf Italian bread with sesame seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil for brushing bread
- 2 cups olive salad
- ¼ pound Genoa salami, sliced for sandwiches
- ¼ pound Capicola ham, sliced for sandwiches
- ¼ pound Mortadella, sliced thin
- 6 slices mozzarella
- 6 slice provolone
Slice the bread in half, lengthwise. Scoop out some of the bread if desired, your call. Brush each side with olive oil.
Layer the meats on the bottom half of the bread (unlike me, who forgot to check and layered them on the top – oh well, it really didn’t matter.)
Next, layer the cheeses on top of the meat.
Evenly spread the olive salad on top of the cheeses. Now I’m beginning to feel like Dagwood, lol.
Add the top of the bread and press down a bit. Slice into quarters and enjoy!
From what I’ve read, muffuletta purists would never serve this heated. Whatever. I served it the first day without heating it, but leftovers a day later went right into my George Foreman grill and resulted in a warm version with melty, melty cheese. Both ways rock!
Now, what to do with the leftover olive salad? Serve it with pita chips or crostini for a mouthwatering and addictive appetizer. Or do like Brad did the other night and top sautéed flounder filets with it. I plan to use it as a burger topping as well. The possibilities are endless!