The muffaletta sandwich has Sicilian roots and is said to have been created in 1906 in New Orleans by a deli/grocery store owner named Salvatore Lupo. I had my first muffuletta when I was working with Bon Appetit in California. The company standard for this sandwich was not to be messed with. It was mandatory that it be made with the best ingredients and the best bread, which made for an amazing sandwich experience. It became a signature item for the menu at Stanford and one that attracted on and off campus customers to the restaurants where were served them. We made a boat load of these for catered events and retail sales. Well, “we” meaning our chefs made a boat load. Not sure how much they loved the sales team when we wrote them into a catering proposal. 🙂 They do require some assembly, but once you have all your ingredients lined up and chopped, it comes together easily. One key element to this process is to “weight” the sandwich with a cast iron pan or paper wrapped brick. By doing this, you press the ingredients and engage all the mouth-watering flavors from olives, herbs, extra virgin olive oil and pickled vegetables that enhance everything else in your layers.
I highly encourage you to go get what you need to make one of these. It’s too hot out to cook!! This recipe suggests specific ingredients and while true muffaletta connoisseurs would say it’s not a true muffaletta if you don’t layer the traditional meats and cheeses, please feel free to use your favorites – just use good ones. AND please include olives, olive oil, herbs and pickled vegetables. The latter is a must-have for a successful muffaletta.
Check out the Cook’s Notes at the bottom. There are ways to make this happen for a little less moolah or if you need a vegetarian version.
- 1 large round artisan loaf of bread – you want it to be about 9″ in diameter
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- I C of green olives, rough chopped
- 1 C roasted red peppers, rough chopped
- 1/3 C capers
- 1/2 C shallot, rough chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 T oregano, dry
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 C fresh organic Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 C fresh organic basil, chopped
- 1/3 lb soppressata, sweet or hot, sliced thin
- 1/2 lb mortadella (or favorite ham)
- 1/2 lb cappicola
- 1/2 lb provolone, slice thin
- 1 lb burrata, broken into bite size pieces (or fresh mozzarella sliced),
- 1 yellow (or red) organic bell pepper, thinly julienne cut
- 1 C pepperoncini, rough chopped
- 4 large pickles, sliced thin lengthwise
- 2-3 C mixed organic greens
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Cut bread in half and scoop out some of the bread from the top half – I scooped what was probably equivalent to a cup. This isn’t mandatory, but I like it with less bread bulk. On a parchment lined sheet pan, place bottom half of loaf and drizzle with olive oil (getting to the edges). We’re just toasting one side. By doing this you can soak up some of the juices without compromising the bread. Under the broiler of your oven, toast the bottom loaf until golden brown. Set aside until assembly. In a medium size bowl, add olives, roasted red peppers, capers, shallot, garlic, oregano, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk ingredients together until fully incorporated. Add chopped herbs and stir into olive mixture. Spread this mixture onto the bottom half of the toasted loaf. Layering commence : Evenly layer meat and cheese ingredients beginning with soppressata, then mortadella, cappicola, provolone, burrata, julienne pepper, pepperoncini, pickles, greens, and drizzle with 3 T of extra virgin olive oil. Lightly season greens with salt and pepper. Carefully put the top on and weight with cast iron pan for one hour. After weighting sandwich, you can serve immediately or tightly wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cut into 4 or 5 or 6 wedges.
On a week when we’re sitting so close to the sun’s surface, this chilled sandwich with all it’s goodness, tastes even better when served with !! cold, cold, cold white wine or cold, cold, cold beer.
- These meats can be expensive. I noticed that most of these meats are up $3 / lb in the last month, so if you’d like to get creative with other meats, do it! I have made this with marinated grilled chicken breast, chilled and sliced thin. I used Italian herbs, lemon, olive oil, chili flakes and olive oil to marinate the chicken breast. Marinated them for 3 hours and grilled outside. We sliced the breasts thin and layered with thinly sliced salami. That’s it. With all the olives and peppers and capers and pickles — it was just as delicious. AND a lot less expensive.
- For a vegetarian version, just make this sandwich with the ingredients minus the meats. We’ve done this as well. My only trick to this was to leave the roasted red peppers whole and slice into strips rather than chopping into olive mixture. It gave more “meat” to the bite.
- A good addition to this sandwich is giardiniera. Chop it up and add it to the olive mixture. I didn’t have any, so this time we went without.