Friday, 5 October 2007

Make-Ahead Muffuletta Sandwich

I distinctly remember my very first Muffuletta sandwich. I was a rather young by-product of Corporate America who spent more time on planes than I did in the office. On one particular trip, I boarded the First Class section of an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York (a five to six hour flight) completely exhausted, very hungry and looking forward to getting home. (Yes, I traveled so much that I never had to pay for First Class upgrades.)

I couldn't wait to get on the plane, relax and EAT! Of course I was seated in the first row and of course they started taking meal orders from the back row. After all, it was one of those days. I could hear everyone ordering filet mignon and shrimp scampi. My stomach was rumbling and my mouth was watering. They finally got to me and the flight attendant said, "We're sorry ma'am." (Which just made things worse because I hate being called ma'am.) "The only meal we have left is a muffuletta sandwich."

I was so tired and hungry and couldn't believe that the filet mignon I thought I would be eating had turned into a cold sandwich. I honestly considered offering $100 to my row-mate for his filet mignon. But in the end, I accepted the Muffuletta although I was already holding to my conviction that I would absolutely hate it. I had never been so wrong.

You know I love Italian cooking, so it was no surprise to discover that the Muffuletta was invented by a Sicilian immigrant in 1906 at the Central Grocery in New Orleans. What sets it apart from other Italian sandwiches is the olive salad. Oh, how I love olives. All kinds. Every kind.

I've been making this sandwich for my kids for years now. What I love about the Muffuletta is that it is really the only true "make-ahead" sandwich. You cannot make and eat a Muffuletta the same day. It's heresy, I tell ya. Like good wine and cheese, a Muffuletta needs to age for just a while.

So read on for the recipe. And again, I'm a WFYB cook (Whatever Floats Your Boat), so get creative and improvise with your favorite sandwich fixin's. Just be sure to send me your recipe!


Chef Mom

Italian Muffuletta

Adapted from a recipe by my favorite Chef in the world, Giada DiLaurentis. The best bread for this is a Ciabatta loaf, but if you can't find a round one, just make sure you get a hearty, crusty round loaf. These are great sandwiches for picnics and road trips. If you press them long enough, when you slice them into wedges they tend not to fall apart too easily.

1 (1-pound) round bread loaf (about 7 inches in diameter and 3 inches high)
Olive salad (recipe below - can be made ahead)
Red wine vinaigrette dressing (recipe below - can be made ahead)
1/4 lb prosciutto
1/4 lb thinly sliced sandwich pepperoni
1/4 lb genoa salami
1/4 provolone cheese
1 large ball fresh mozzerella, sliced thinly (do not use pre-packaged)
1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
Roasted red peppers (homemade or jarred, packed in water)
Artichoke hearts (jarred, packed in water)
Arugula or romaine lettuce
Fresh basil leaves

Prepare the bread. Cut the top 1 inch of the bread loaf off horizontally. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread, leaving about 1" of the bread.

Spread some of the olive salad over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Start layering in the ingredients as follows, occasionally drizzling with a little of the red wine vinaigrette dressing: meats, provolone, onion, lettuce, artichoke hearts, basil leaves, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzerella, remaining olive salad.

Carefully cover sandwich with the bread top. Wrap the Muffuletta tightly in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator with a weight such as a foil wrapped brick or cast iron pan on the top. Sandwich should rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours or up to a day.

Cut sandwich into wedges and serve.

Olive Salad:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup pitted, coarsely chopped kalamata olives

With a whisk or a small food processor, whisk the first three ingredients together. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking or while food processor is on. Stir in the olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


4 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs finely chopped shallot
1 tbs Dijon mustard
4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to food processor except the olive oil. Combine thoroughly. While food processor is on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.


Anna said...

Okay I am about to go sleep, and now when I saw your photo and the recipes, I have two choices, go and make myself some food or go sleep and dream about it, lol. What a nice blog you have here, and tasty. Anna :) btw thanks for the kudo at zimbo.

Lisa said...

Anna - I hoped you dreamed about it! Much less fattening that way! lolol

Sasha said...

Mm..just the name 'Muffuletta' says "you're about to eat a whole lot of sandwich."
Looks delicious = )