Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking: Muffaleta Sandwiches

Hungry? I know, I know. January is supposed to be the month we are all very disciplined, compensating for the indulgences over the holidays. I am with you! But, the Super Bowl is coming up, and sometimes in the winter it's nice to have something flavorful and hearty. So here's one if you are having a day like that: The Muffaleta Sandwich!

Have you ever had one? It's manly. The first time I encountered one was when an aunt of mine returned from a trip to New Orleans with a jar of muffaleta mix and made sandwiches for my parents. I had my own in New Orleans once, and a good friend of mine brought us a muffaleta loaf sandwich when I had my first baby. And, they are perfect for a picnic, which is why I served them for Scarlett's last birthday.

Want to make one? Click to read more.

There's not really a recipe for this and you can tune it to your liking, but at the heart of this sandwich is a good muffaleta mix. This is a marinated mix of olives (and you could just use an olive mix) and usually some other vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, and pepper. I bought mine from a local Italian deli but I've seen them bottled in the stores--sometimes they are minced and sometimes the vegetables are whole. If you are buying bottled vegetables just drain them, through them in your Cuisinart and mix until you get a spread that looks like this:

In addition to the muffaleta mix, you'll need:
  • Good quality sandwich bread (something a bit heavy to stand up to all the ingredients--a loaf of ciabatta would be good). I used a full loaf to make the sandwiches for the party, which is a quick way to do it, but here I am showing just a (generous) individual portion.
  • A selection of cheeses. I used mozzarella and provolone.
  • A selection of meats. I used salami, ham ("boiled" not honey baked) and pastrami.
Now to assemble. I have to confess here that I come from a family of rather average sandwich makers. And so I haven't been much of a sandwich fan. My husband, on the other hand, knows how to make a good sandwich! He has taught me it's all about how you layer the ingredients and you don't want to slap that meat down flat--it needs some hills and valleys!

First spread the muffaleta mix on both sides of the bread:

Then start the layering, first the ham:

Then a cheese, a few slices of provolone here:

Then pastrami (be generous):

Mozzarella (a couple slices torn to fit):

Layered salami:

And top it off with the bread. You've got it in hand. It is quite a handful: the muffaleta sandwich.

In addition to all the flavors of olive and spicy meats it's a great sandwich for making ahead a bit. It doesn't get soggy too quickly. And if you make a big loaf (by filleting the loaf lengthwise and opening up) you can just wrap it up and then cut it in slices for individual sandwiches when you get to your picnic or party destination.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!


TammyW said...

I love muffaletas. I've never tried pre-made olive salad. I've just always made it myself. When I went to New Orleans for a business trip we had muffaletas that were so good. There bread was different then what I use but still so good. Your pictures make my mouth water. Maybe we'll have to add muffaletas to next week's menu. Yum!

The Cottage Mama said...

Ooooooooh, that looks SO good!!!

Tammy said...

I've never heard of these sandwiches. They look hearty!

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June B said...

Can't wait to try this! Maybe tonight...

sewVery said...

These look delicious! My husband always has to go to Central Grocery to eat one when we visit New Orleans.

Delia said...

Oh my that looks good. Wish I could bite the screen! :)

Lucy said...

Oh sandwiches never, ever appeal to me (apart from a post Christmas one) but this (which I had never heard of before!) has me hungry and intrigued!

Bobby said...

Wow that looks good.. how do you get a mouth around it??

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