This olive salad sandwich recipe is quintessential New Orleans cuisine. There are many versions but this comes as close to the real thing as possible.
Many people have had their first experience with a muffuletta olive salad sandwich at Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans' French Quarter.
A whole muffuletta (also spelled muffaletta) is served on a round loaf of bread about 8 inches in diameter and fully 2 inches tall. Bread not included, the sandwich weighs in at almost 2 pounds. Eating a whole sandwich in one sitting seems impossible and, in fact, Central Grocery sells half- and quarter-sandwiches and the quarter-sandwich is the perfect size for a good appetite.
The key ingredient is the olive salad mix. Ideally, you want to make the sandwich an hour or two before eating it so the juices from the olive mix can soak into the bread, which makes this a perfect picnic sandwich.
A link to a homemade muffuletta bread recipe that makes two round loaves (freeze one) is provided below, but a purchased round Italian loaf will do nicely. If you can find good-quality olive salad mix, that will work but this recipe is so easy, why not make it from scratch?
This recipe makes 1 large sandwich that will serve 4 people.
- Cut round bread loaf in half horizontally.
- Spread half the bottom portion with olive salad mix then layer on meats and cheeses.
- Cover with top of bread. Ideally, the sandwich should be made an hour or more in advance and then tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to enable the juices to soak into the bread.
- Slice into quarters and serve.
Note: Appetizer- or canape-size versions of this recipe can be made on slices of baguette.
Central Grocery opened its doors in the heart of the French Quarter in 1906. Its first owner was Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian sandwich-maker extraordinaire, who came up with the legendary muffuletta (also spelled muffaletta but never muffulotta, as it is sometimes mispronounced).
The sandwich became an easier way to serve farmers who would stop by for a traditional Sicilian lunch where everything was eaten separately (cold cuts, cheese, bread, etc.) -- not so great for portability. So Lupo sliced open a whole loaf of his Sicilian sesame bread and stuffed everything inside and the muffuletta / muffaletta was born!