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The Origins of Muffuletta (and Recipe)

If you’ve never seen or heard of muffuletta before, we’re here to introduce you and change your life for the better. You know we here at Old Town Olive adore good food. And today our food of choice is this bit of Italian-American deliciousness. It sprang up about a hundred years ago in New Orleans and is now, with very good reason, considered one of America’s modern food classics.

The story goes that in 1906, an Italian immigrant named Signor Lupo Salvatore, the owner of a grocery store on Decatur Street in New Orleans, started making the sandwich for the men who worked in the nearby French Market and on the wharves. After experimenting with different bread types, he settled on the muffuletta loaf as the perfect foundation to build it on, and soon the tasty meal was just referred to as a “muffuletta.”

What the Heck is It?

Well, it’s a sandwich. A sandwich made out of an entire loaf of bread! Sort of like a super-sandwich.

It starts with muffuletta bread—a round load that is flatter in shape than most loaves of bread and is traditionally topped with sesame seeds. You slice that in half like a hamburger bun, then start building your sandwich. (If you can’t find muffuletta bread in your area, focaccia is a good substitute.)

The Recipe

The first layer of goodness is olive salad. An incredible combination of:

1 cup Delizia Garlic Stuffed Gordal Olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup black Mission olives, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Delizia Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped pickled cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped carrot
1/2 cup Green Piri-Piri Chili stuffed Gordal olives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup marinated cocktail onions
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup oregano white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup basil infused olive oil

Combine all these ingredients in a glass jar or other non-reactive bowl. Cover and let stand at least overnight.

Spoon that mixture onto your split loaf of bread, then load it up with Genoa salami, ham, Mortadella, mozzarella, and provolone. (We did tell you this would change your life for the better… It sounds delicious, right?)

Now here’s the thing with a muffuletta. It’s one of those foods that gets better as it sits. All the flavors and oil get into each other and after a few hours of sitting wrapped in the fridge, it tastes even better than it does fresh. Once you’ve eaten this sandwich, you’ll find yourself up at midnight rummaging around in the fridge for the makings. Better do up a double batch of the olive salad.

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