Mini Muffulettas with Homemade Olive Salad


A muffuletta is a large Sicilian sandwich made with Italian cold cuts, cheeses and a piquant, garlicky olive salad dripping with lots of spicy green olive oil. Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter has
been selling the best muffulettas in town for over a century. Even today, you can have one of the best meals in New Orleans for less than ten dollars. If you want to simplify this recipe, you can purchase delicious olive salad from any Italian market or online Cajun grocer - or, if you’re in New Orleans - pick up a jar from Central Grocery!

Olive Salad:
  • 3/4 cup small pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup giardiniera,* drained well
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, stems removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper** (or one 4-ounce jar diced pimentos, drained)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Muffulettas:
  • 4 kaiser rolls (preferably topped with sesame seeds), cut in half
  • 4 thin slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices deli ham (or capocollo)
  • 4 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 8 thin slices Genoa salami
  • 16 small pimento-stuffed olives, for garnish (optional)
Special Equipment:

16 decorative sandwich picks*** (or frill picks)

For the Olive Salad: Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure all ingredients are evenly chopped. (Note: Do not over-process, or the salad will liquefy!)

Transfer to a glass jar (with a lid) that is just large enough to hold the olive salad; pour the olive oil over the salad. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours to allow the flavors to marry. (Note: Store leftover olive salad in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)

For the Muffulettas: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of olive salad on both the top and bottom of each roll (2 to 4 tablespoons olive salad total per sandwich).

Top the bottom rolls with 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 slice of ham (or capocollo), 1 slice of provolone and 2 slices of salami; carefully place the top rolls on each sandwich.

Place the sandwiches on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with a sheet of oiled aluminum foil. Bake until the cheeses are melted, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into quarters, and place a skewer through the middle of each sandwich quarter to help hold it together. (Note: If desired, skewer an olive on each sandwich quarter.) Serve warm.

Tips and Techniques

* Giardiniera is a pickled mixture of predominantly cauliflower, carrots and celery. It can be found in the pickle section of most grocery stores or online at cajungrocer.com. Make sure you select an equal proportion of celery, carrots and cauliflower for making the olive salad. If the giardiniera
contains pepperoncini, do not add it - pepperoncini will be added separately.

** To Roast Peppers: Char the peppers over a gas flame on the stove or under the broiler, turning to ensure the skin blisters evenly. Place the blistered peppers in a covered container (or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap) and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the dark skins and
remove the stem and seeds.

*** Purchase decorative sandwich picks at your local party supply store or online at pickonus.com.

Serves 4

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