The perfect cold cut sandwich is any cold cut sandwich, right? Muffuletta sandwiches have recently become one of my go-to meals. They’re super easy to make and incorporate the perfect mix of salty, savory ingredients that really hit the spot.
Muffuletta sandwiches are easy enough for lunch and also hearty enough for dinner (or breakfast, I won’t judge!). What may seem like a long list of ingredients for a sandwich comes together wonderfully and can easily be shared by two people.
- 1 16 Oz. Jar Minced Pickled Veggies (Giardiniera)
- ½ Cup Pitted or Stuffed Green Olives
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Round & Soft French or Italian Bread with Sesame Seeds (or Individual Rolls)
- 4 Oz. Thinly Sliced Dry Salami
- 4 Oz. Thinly Sliced Ham
- 4 Oz. Swedish or Danish Fontina Cheese (or Other Cheese of Your Choosing)
Drain veggies and olives. Chop into small dice or use food processor. Add garlic and oil. (Spin olive oil and garlic first).
Slice bread horizontally.
Layer on salami, ham and cheese then top with olive salad.
For best flavor, wrap tightly with saran wrap for 2 to 24 hours refrigerated.
Take out of refrigerator 2 hours before use to warm flavors.
Cut in wedges or serve individual rolls.
To begin, we’ll make the olive salad that famously tops muffuletta sandwiches. Drain the giardiniera vegetables and the olives well. In a food processer, combine the garlic and olive oil. Pulse until they’re well combined and almost uniform. Then add the drained olives and giardiniera and pulse lightly. We still want the salad to have nice olive pieces and are going for more of a relish consistency than a paste.
Important note: if you have time, I would highly recommend making the olive salad at least a day in advance. It can be purchased at some grocery stores pre-made, but the quality and taste seems to vary a lot in my experience. Making it yourself and letting it sit for at least 24 hours in a jar allows the flavors to marry and the garlic to mellow out in the olive brine. I promise it will be worth it!
Slice your round bread of choice horizontally to make two thin circles. Start by layering on the ham, salami, and cheese and finish off with a dollop of olive salad. I like to wrap my muffuletta sandwiches in saran wrap for at least a few hours in the fridge. This allows the flavors to combine and strengthen, and then take it out a few hours before I intend to eat it so the meats and cheese reach room temperature. This makes for a tastier sandwich. However, if you can’t wait, I understand!
Once you’re all done, you can either at the whole sandwich yourself (and who wouldn’t want to?) or serve cut in wedges for sharing. This sandwich makes a great party platter addition and can be made up to a day in advance. It’s a great change from the typical party food and will surely impress your guest!
What goes with a muffuletta sandwich?
Muffuletta is a delightfully versatile sandwich. It goes well with a wide variety of sides, and you can even switch out some of the ingredients in the sandwich itself to suit your tastes! Some people use a variety of cheeses instead of just one. Some popular options are provolone and mozzarella. Just make sure you get them very thinly sliced!
The meats in a muffuletta sandwich are pretty traditionally salami and some type of ham, but don’t let that limit you. You can use something like hot or sweet capicola to change up the flavor. Mortadella, a type of Italian cold cut similar to bologna, is another great choice. It has a mild flavor and texture that really complements the rest of the sandwich’s ingredients.
As far as side dishes go, I like to pair it with something crunchy. The sandwich itself has an overall softer texture, so something with a little contrast is nice. Classic potato chips are a great option, as well as some type of fresh fruits or veggies to add some nice greenery and crunch.
To really elevate your sandwich, you can make your own version of the delicious dread dipping sauce that you often get at Italian restaurants. Simply mix some olive oil with freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of salt, and parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl. Optionally, you can add a shake or two of Italian seasoning mix if you have some on hand. Dip your sandwich in this or use it to moisten the bread for a bite chocked full of olive flavor.
Where did muffuletta originate?
The muffuletta sandwich has a storied history that begins in early 1900s New Orleans. The original owner of Central Grocery, a man named Lupo Salvatore, used to cater to the many farmers who came to sell their produce every day at his market. The vast majority of these farmers were Sicilian, and they would order a typical Sicilian lunch consisting of various meats, cheeses, and bread.
Over time, the farmers realized it might be easier to eat their lunches if the ingredients were combined into one easy-to-hold unit like a sandwich. Traditionally all the meats and cheeses were enjoyed separately, but the sandwich form quickly grew in popularity over time. Central Grocery remains a tourist attraction to this day and still sells the famously original muffuletta sandwiches to hundreds of patrons daily.
What does muffuletta mean?
It is widely believed that the name muffuletta, which refers to the classic Italian bread that the sandwich is served on, comes from the Italian muffe, meaning mushroom. This probably refers to the bread’s round shape which kind of resembles a mushroom cap. Over time, the term evolved through many Sicilian dialects and then American Italian-isms to become muffuletta.
How did muffuletta get its name?
The muffuletta sandwich gets its name from the bread it is traditionally served on. While any bread can be used and will still taste great, muffuletta bread is the preferred option. It is a larger circular loaf of relatively thin bread coated in sesame seeds which give it a nice texture and slightly nutty taste. Unfortunately, it may be hard to come by if there isn’t an Italian grocer or deli near you.
According to New Orleans legend, muffuletta bread was one of the preferred breads that the Sicilian farmers loved to order at Central Grocery. It just so happens that its thin width and large circumference made it ideal for a sandwich, so when they decided to combine their meat and cheese lunches into one handheld dish they simply began ordering “a muffuletta”.
How long does muffuletta last?
Muffuletta is a really great meal prep option because it lasts so well in the fridge. In fact, it’s basically a requirement to let it sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors get to know each other. If you want to make yours in advance, you can easily do it up to 24 hours ahead of time. Make sure to wrap very tightly in plastic wrap to prevent the sandwich from drying out and keep all the yumminess locked inside!
As I mentioned above, making the olive salad in advance is also highly recommended. You can make a larger batch by scaling up my recipe above and then safely store in sterilized jars. If you’ll be using the salad soon enough, even a regular Tupperware container will do just fine. It makes a great gift to friends and family, and it’s always good to have around for when a muffuletta craving strikes!