Mardi Gras – Time for my Muffaletta Recipe!

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone!

Though I’ve never been to New Orleans during the Mardi Gras celebrations, this time of year holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons.

For one, it brings back a lot of memories of a trip to New Orleans (in the summertime, though!) a few years ago (Immediately pre-Katrina). A bunch of friends and I stayed in the French Quarter, and man.. what a crazy amount of culture is packed into one place! The sights, the sounds.. the food! Great times. I’d love to go back sometime, hopefully during the Mardi Gras celebrations. Sounds like a ton of crazy fun.

Anyway, more importantly, it reminds me of getting engaged to my husband. Sounds kinda weird, huh? It gets better. He proposed to me as the result of a very famous New Orleans sandwich – the Muffaletta!

He’d never heard of them before, but had a rabid love of olives. I remembered the delicious sandwich I’d experienced at Central Grocery in New Orleans, and decided that he HAD to try one. Muffalettas appeared to be pretty hard to come by here in Minnesota, so I made him one, from scratch. He went out and bought my ring the next day! LOL.

So, in honor of Fat Tuesday, here is my muffaletta recipe. No guarantee that you’ll have the same sparkly results from serving it (it ended up being the most expensive sandwich he’d ever had, lol!), but if you like olives, I’m sure you’ll love it!

Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe

1 large round Italian loaf (sourdough works)
1/2 lb thinly sliced mortadella
1/2 lb thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/2 lb thinly sliced ham
1/2 lb provalone cheese, sliced
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced
Olive salad (recipe follows)

Slice loaf of bread in half horizontally. Scoop out a bit of the bread inside (I like to freeze it to make stuffing with at a later date!). This allows room for all of the meats, cheeses, and salad you’ll be stuffing the sandwich with.

If the oil in your olive salad has solidified, warm up about 2 cups of salad in the microwave, just until oil has liquified. Drizzle some of the salad oil on cut side of both halves of the loaf, and spread with olive salad. Use as much / little of the ~ 2 cups as you want.

Layer meats and cheeses on the bottom half of the loaf to construct the sandwich – I like to alternate meats and cheeses, but feel free to go your own way with it. Carefully cover with the top half of the loaf. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, chill for 30 minutes.

To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges. Serves 6-8+ people, depending on appetite!

Olive Salad

This makes a TON of Olive salad, but it keeps well when packed into glass jars and refrigerated. Use to make muffaletta, as above… or for any number of other uses. Try it on many sandwiches, on crackers, as bruschetta topping, mixed with cream cheese for a dip, mixed in fondue… SO many ideas!

3 cups green olives with pimento
3 cups black olives (canned, no pits)
1 1/2 cups drained giardiera
1 small jar pepperoncini, drained
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp Oregano
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups olive oil

Chop olives, giardinera, and pepperoncini, mix together in a large bowl. Add parsley, oregano, and garlic, stir well. Add black pepper to taste. Stir in olive oil, pack mixture into glass jars, refrigerate.

Allow to chill for at least 24 hours before using.

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