The Mardi Gras celebration continues here at Spiced! Today’s feature is the muffaletta, a sandwich which has attracted a cult following in the city of New Orleans. So go make a muffaletta this weekend and toast the Mardi Gras season!
I didn’t grow up eating a lot of Italian meats. Ok, I lied–I did enjoy pepperoni, but always on a pizza. (Wait, you mean pepperoni can be used on other food besides pizza!?!) So you can imagine my wonder and amazement when I discovered the muffaletta sandwich. I was visiting New Orleans some number of years back, and I was told that I couldn’t leave the city until I had tried a muffaletta from Central Grocery–the iconic grocery store located in the French Quarter.
So I made my way over to Decatur Street and found the store (it wasn’t that hard because there was a line out the door and down the street!). I took my muffaletta across the street and sat down on the levee overlooking the Mississippi River, and then I fell in love. Ok, so maybe love is a strong word…but the muffaletta sandwich is truly an amazing and delicious creation!
Note: Most muffalettas include mortadella, and I have included this delicious Italian meat in the recipe above. However, when I made this muffaletta, my market was out of mortadella (What!? I live in upstate New York…how are you out of mortadella!?). So I just substituted in some hot Italian ham instead. The morale of this story is that you can make this sandwich work in a number of different ways–just as long it includes the olive salad!
One of the unique features of the muffaletta is the olive “salad” which gets spread on the bread. This mixture of olives, capers, garlic, and other delicious ingredients transforms this sandwich from a normal (yet still tasty) Italian sandwich into the unique and amazing creation that is the muffaletta. The recipe below is for my version of olive salad, but feel free to adjust depending on your taste preferences.
Note: Giardiniera mix can typically be found in the Italian foods section of your market. It can also sometimes be found in bulk in the deli department.
If you love Italian meats, make sure to check out my recent post on salami appetizers: San Francisco Salami Celebration!