I had my first muffaletta olive salad sandwich at Central Grocery in New Orleans on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. A whole muffaletta (also spelled muffuletta) 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. I can't imagine eating a whole sandwich 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. (Larger Image.)
I have provided a link to a homemade muffaletta bread recipe, but a purchased round Italian loaf will do nicely. If you can find good-quality olive salad mix, feel free, but my recipe is easy to make from scratch.
If this recipe doesn't do it for you, check out my gallery of sandwiches.
Makes 4 servings of Muffaletta Olive Salad Sandwich.
- Cut round bread loaf in half horizontally.
- Spread half the bottom portion with 1 cup 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 1: I enjoy baking bread and usually make my own muffaletta bread for this sandwich. The bread freezes well so I make up a couple of loaves, and freeze one. But only one because the sandwich is so good I always want another one the next day. However, you can also use a good loaf of store-bought Italian bread instead of baking your own.
Note 2: I've made small versions of these on slices of baguette as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvres.
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 muffaletta (also spelled muffuletta 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 muffaletta / muffuletta was born!