New Orleans has a few famous sandwiches and among them is the Muffaletta sandwich, which was invented at Central Grocery. There are two things that make this sandwich memorable: fresh-baked Muffaletta bread and made-from-scratch olive salad.
This recipe is a personal take on Central Grocery's olive salad mix and at least two students from my cooking classes have agreed that it may just be better than the original.
There really is not much to this olive salad recipe. It requires that you combine all of the ingredients and mix them in a food processor. It's very easy to do and, in the end, you will have a lot of olive salad. That's okay because this makes every Muffaletta sandwich after the first one that much easier to whip up.
Ideally, the olive salad should be made a day in advance to give the flavors time to meld. If stored in a jar with a good seal, it will keep in the refrigerator for months.
- 3/4 cup olives (pimento-stuffed)
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives (pitted)
- 1/4 cup giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)
- 2 large pepperoncini
- 3 to 4 pickled onions
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 medium clove garlic (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Drain all of the ingredients and place them in a food processor.
- Pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Refrigerate overnight.
What Makes This Olive Salad So Amazing?
Beyond the lemon juice and olive oil base, every one of the ingredients in this olive salad mix has an intense flavor. This is definitely not a mild a sandwich ingredient and that is why it is so memorable.
It would be best to follow the measurements given because it is a perfect balance of intense flavors.
While you may be familiar with most of the ingredients, a few may need a bit of explanation:
- Giardiniera - It takes about two weeks to pickle this assortment of vegetables in a traditional Italian way. The process is very easy and for produce, you will need cauliflower, onions, carrots, and celery. If you don't want to go to the hassle, giardiniera can also be found at many markets.
- Pepperoncini - This is a very mild chile pepper that also comes from Italy. It is similar in look and flavor to a green banana pepper. The pepperoncino is slightly sweet and has a great tang that really adds a zip to the olive salad.
- Capers - Capers are actually dried flower buds from a plant that is native to the Mediterranean and they often found in Italian cuisine. The flavor is a salty-sour that is sought after in salads like this one.
You may have noticed that between these three ingredients and the two varieties of olives, the Muffaletta olive salad has a decidedly Mediterranean flair. It is the perfect companion for the salami, mortadella, provolone, and mozzarella found on the Italian bread sandwich it was developed for.