I’m sure that Muffuletta sandwiches taste best in New Orleans, but if I may be so bold I’d like to suggest that I think they are equally as good at the beach, prior to a big football game, or just eaten on a quiet evening at home. Muffulettas, no matter where you eat them, are just darn good sandwiches.
I was reminded of that this summer. At a family reunion in Siesta Key, my aunt made several of these whopping sandwiches for us to enjoy for lunch one day. She brought them out to the beach and I don’t think I’ve ever had a better beach snack. The saltiness of the antipasto mixture was just right with a little sand, surf, and sunscreen. In expressing my thanks I learned that the recipe came from my mother although as I noted to her I think she only made them once for me.
Mom redeemed herself last week when she forwarded on the recipe to me. It seems muffulettas make quite an impression as she reminisced about her first time eating this Italian-inspired sandwich in her email. Driving back from San Diego where my father had been in service in the Navy, they stopped in New Orleans to visit a friend. He took them to one of the small sandwich shops in the French Quarter to experience this legendary sandwich. I’m sure, just like when I’ve visited New Orleans, the line for these sandwiches trailed out the door.
My parents’ final destination on that cross-country trip was Florida and shortly after their return they visited my mom’s parents in Orlando. Serendipitously a recipe for New Orleans Muffuletta’s appeared in the Orlando Sentinel during their visit. The year was 1978.
My mom sent a copy of the original newspaper clipping with the recipe last week including (and I love this about my mother) the back of the recipe. A coupon for film development confirms the year although one only needs to look at the prices in the ads to know that we aren’t in 2016 anymore. Even during my college years I felt I overpaid for Old Milwaukee, but it’s hard to argue with $1.59 a six-pack.
I won’t be the one to mess with a recipe that has had almost 40 years of success so you’ll find the recipe for New Orleans-style Muffulettas with just the slightest tweaks below. If you find yourself itching to add your own twist, I’d recommend starting with the cheese and sandwich meats as I think the spread is pretty close to perfect. Happy cooking!
New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwiches – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
This recipe is barely adapted from the recipe for “New Orleans Muffuletta” published in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper in 1978. I wouldn’t change a thing about the traditional antipasto spread, but feel free to get creative with the deli meats and cheese.
1/2 cup chopped pimento olives
1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives (the ones from a can work just fine)
1/2 cup chopped giardiniera (mixed pickled vegetables), drained
1/4 cup minced celery
3 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large loaf of Italian bread, split
1/4 lb thinly sliced salami
1/4 lb sliced provolone cheese
4 slices prosciutto
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped pimento and black olives, the chopped giardiniera, the minced celery, the parsley and garlic cloves. Toss to combine. Stir in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours. Stir the mixture every couple of hours for best results.
To make the sandwich, brush a thin layer of the antipasto spread (and plenty of the flavorful olive oil from the spread) over the bottom side of the bread. Layer with the sandwich meats and cheese and then top with a generous layer of the antipasto mixture. Cover with the top of the bread and slice into individual portions. Enjoy!