Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July with N'Awlins Muffulettas...

When I think of celebration, and sleepless fun, no other American city jumps to mind than one of my favourite travel places ever-- New Orleans. Tomorrow is July 4th and what better food to enjoy at a picnic giving nod to US Independence Day than muffulettas? The muffuletta is the quintessential New Orleans sandwich of cured meats, cheese and tangy olive salad piled onto a sturdy flat sesame seed Italian loaf. It was my go-to lunch the two times I visited N'Awlins-- I couldn't get enough of the addictive briny pickle-ly olive salad mix slathered in the famous sandwich at the original Central Grocery store. And today, I am making a batch with my ideal ingredients. It should be made a day in advance to give the flavours time to meld, thus tomorrow is sandwich-making day! My recipe makes four cups, so extras kept sealed in a jar in the refrigerator will keep for months.

The home of the first muffuletta invented by Salvatore Lupo in 1906.

Sinking into a muffuletta with a Barq root beer bevie is so-O N'Awlins classic!

Muffuletta Olive Salad
Makes 4 cups

2 cups pimento-stuffed olives, roughly chopped
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 cup giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)
2 Tbsp. capers

small handful Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
a couple of grinds of black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Drain all ingredients. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped but not mushy. Remove into a jar. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day on Saturday, I was excited to see how the mixture turned out-- and it was divine! Just the right amount of brininess to pickle-ly tang and saltiness. The original breads used to make the sammies are flat round sesame-seeded Italian loafs, but I find these hard to get at a regular supermarket or bakery. Any sturdy bread loaf will do-- one that is shallow and chewy on the outside is ideal. I picked up some awesome chewy sesame baguettes at a Persian supermarket and they worked perfectly. Someone also suggested baking up pizza dough for a similar texture. I like adding avocado slices for creamy dimension (a tip passed to me by the owner of a praline shop in New Orleans)-- and OH, is it ever super delightful!


1 large loaf sesame-seeded Italian bread, split or other sturdy bread loaf
mozzarella and/or mild provolone cheese slices
sliced ham
sliced Genoa salami (I like using hot Genoa to spice things up)
sliced mortadella
olive mixture
avocado slices (optional)
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Peperoncini, for serving on the side

Common, I don't need to give you instructions on how to assemble a sandwich!! Customize to your family and guests tastes- put as much of the meat, cheese and olive mixture combo as you like. Add sliced avocado for creaminess and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to soak the bread silly. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic and let stand for 30 minutes or up to two hours to let the flavours meld. Cut the sandwich into pieces and serve with peperoncini on the side if desired.

Toting blueberries and cherries along to the picnic for some blue and red!


A great side for these muffulettas is my Zesty All-American Potato Salad. I love zing and zest so this one has everything from onions, dill pickles, celery, hard-cooked eggs, and parsley along with the flavours of using two different Dijon mustards and added hot horseradish for extra kick!

Zesty All-American Potato Salad

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