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Friday, March 16, 2012

[Muffuletta] New Orleans style sandwich on Sicilian bread

Sandwich is such a versatile food item, along with pizza and pasta.
There are at least 101 different things you can slip in between two (or three) slices of bread.
As a bread lover, I indulge in all kinds of sandwiches.
And I don't ignore good sandwich recipes, which I believe is a natural attitude of a sandwich lover. :)

When I read Virginia's muffaletta post, I needed to make it right away!
Well, actually it took a few days before I executed my compulsive desire for muffaletta.

The muffuletta is a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and also a submarine sandwich made with muffaletta bread.

Muffuletta is originated from Sicilian bread, or pano Siciliano.
I had thought about baking muffuletta bread for a few minutes before giving up the idea because of sesame. Pablo is allergic not only to nuts, but also to sesame. He wouldn't be able to eat this bread even if I bake it. So! I decided to use store-bought panini bread and cheese bread. :)
I still think I'll bake this yummy bread soon, but without sesame.

Muff was made first at by the founder of the Central Grocery, a Sicilian grocery store in New Orleans.
According to Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the The Central Grocery's founder, the origin of the Muffuletta sandwich of which nickname is "Muff" was quite spontaneous.

"One of the most interesting aspects of my father's grocery is his unique creation, the muffuletta sandwich. the mufuletta was created in the early 1900's when the Farmers' Market was in the same area as the grocery. Most of the farmers who sold their produce there were Sicilian. Every day they used to come of my father's grocery for lunch.
They would order some salami, some ham, a piece of cheese, a little olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or round muffuletta bread. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately. The farmers used to sit on crates or barrels and try to eat while precariously balancing their small trays covered with food on their knees. My father suggested that it would be easier for the farmers if he cut the bread and put everything on it like a sandwich; even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. He experimented and found that the ticker, braided Italian bread was too hard to bite but the softer round muffuletta was ideal for his sandwich. In very little time, the farmers came to merely ask for a "muffuletta" for their lunch."

Muffuletta sandwich didn't disappoint me. It was as good as I had expected. :)
Abundunt cold cuts and cheese make the bread uber rich and tasty,
the real crown of the sandwich is olive salad, or New Orleans style olive tapenade.

I love almost anything made with olive and one of my favorites is olive Tapenade. (Tapenade is a Provençal dish consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil.) As you see the ingredients of tapenade, the color of tapenade is brown-black. On the contrary, New Orleans style olive salad/tapenade, is pretty colorful thanks to carrot, celery and artichoke hearts.
It's my first time tasting it. It was so good. I'm sure I'll make it often.
I'm sure you will love it too.

Once you make the tapenade, everything is so easy :)

There are a couple of differences between Virginia's recipe and my sandwich is as follows: :)

1. I put only about 2 tablespoonful of chopped jalapeno instead of 1/4 cup as Virginia's recipe suggested, because of the four people: My kids can't anything spicier than mustard. None of two adults in my household digest spicy food well. But, if you like spiciness, feel free to add 4 tablespoons of chopped jalapeno.
I didn't know that Mr. D threw away the jalepeno that had been staying in the fridge about a month!! I added jalepeno later after I came back from the supermarket only for that jalepeno.

2. I used red wine vinegar instead of pomgranate one since I could not find such an amazing vinegar.
Here goes Virginia's muffuletta recipe:

(6 servings)

STEPS 1 - olive tapenade
1 cup black olives (measured before chopping), finely chopped
1 cup green olives pimento stuffed (measured before chopping), finely chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (measured before chopping), finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery (1-rib)
1/4 cup capers (measured before chopping), finely chopped
1/4 cup [hot] jalapeños (measured before chopping), finely chopped
2 [large] garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

STEPS 2 (Muffuletta sandwich):
6 panini rolls (such as Dutch Crunch)
Olive Tapenade from steps 1
12 slices Sopressata salami
12 slices Mortadela
6-12 slices roasted red bell pepper (depending on size)
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices Provolone cheese
(6 slices jalapeño jack cheese) - I used only Swiss and Provolone

How to make:

Step 1 - Olive salad/tapenade

Ingredients are all chopped and ready to be mixed :)

1. In a bowl ,mix all ingredients until well blended.

2. Once well mixed, cover the bowl and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight so that the flavors of olive and artichoke blended into "deliciousness." :)
I made it the day before and it was perfect! 

Now it is very easy to assemble.
Once the sandwich is assembled, it needs to be grilled so that provolone & swiss cheese in the sandwich can be melted.

STEPS 2 (putting the sandwich together)

1. Half/split bread lengthwise

and spread some of the olive salad mixture evenly on both sides of the bread.
2. Begin layering: begin with cheese on top of olive salad.

and the middle layer with the roasted pepper and slice of cheese (cheese of choice), close the sandwich.
and end with cheese (your choice of cheese).

Now the Muff is read to go on the grill.

3. Generously butter or rendered bacon grease or olive oil for brushing on outside of bread (top and bottom)
- As I preferred crispy and dry texture of the bread, I didn't brush any grease.

4. Place onto a pre-heated Panini grill or similar kind.

George Foreman grill works as good as any panini grill. 


It looks like a fat panini sandwich.
(I love panini sandwich as well :))

I used my perfect-cute-sandwich-size George Foreman grill Remi gave me as my birthday present :) 

Isn't it really cute? :)

I love this grill. I decided to keep this grill forever.
Cooking time would vary depending on your grill. In my grill's case, it needed 4 minutes to show me nice golen stripes :)

Cut the Muff in half and serve with a side of your choice :) 
This is a real gourmet Sandwich.
 You should try it!

Thanks Virginia, for the great recipe!



  1. Colleen, I LOVE your pictures! And I could probably have done without the extra calories from brushing the butter and rendered bacon grease. But I couldn't help myself. lol!

    You are AWESOME, WONDERFUL, a great friend. Thank you, thank you, Amiga!


    1. Good morning Virginia,
      Happy St. Patrick's day!
      THANK YOU for the recipe. It was truly fantastic.
      I think the muff would be even tastier with extra bit of buttered outlayer. I wanted to follow your recipe religiously you know. But, my kids are funny in a way that they ask for plastic gloves when they hold something greasy!!! Sigh... And I also like crispness of sandwich when I bite the sandwich. So it worked out in that way.
      I'll make your muff again very soon.