Muffaletta

A friend of mine is heading down to New Orleans this week. I can’t wait until she returns and tells me about the food adventures that she experienced. I’m sure they will be the highlight of her trip.

I’m a bit envious. I’ve never been to New Orelans but some day hope to make it, especially to try the local cuisine. To me, New Orleans is all about food. Some of my favorite dishes (gumbo, jambalya, seafood boil, po’ boy) are indigenous to this city that’s at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Another dish that I’d like to try that has its roots there is the muffaletta, a round, hollowed bread that usually is stuffed with ricotta and layered with ham or cappicola, mortadella, salami, mozzarella and provolone cheeses and is served with a signature garlicky green olive and marinated vegetable salad. The muffuletta is said to have originated at the Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906.

Here’s a recipe for the sandwich and salad, which will have to do for me until I make it to Naw’lins.

Muffaletta
FOR THE OLIVE SALAD:
1 7-ounce jar pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced
1 6-ounce jar marinated vegetables
3 whole roasted pimientos, diced
3 to 6 cherry peppers or pepperoncini (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons liquid from olive jar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
FOR THE SANDWICH:
1 round loaf Italian bread
Olive oil
¼ pound each of sliced cappicola or ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella cheeses
Shredded lettuce and sliced tomato (optional)
Combine all the olive salad ingredients in a glass bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Split the bread in half horizontally. Remove excess bread if desired. Brush both cut sides with olive oil. Layer meats and cheeses on the bottom half. Top with olive salad, then the top of the bread. If desired, wrap in foil and heat 25 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Open and add lettuce and tomato if desired. Press top back on lightly and slice into eighths.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 362 calories, 58 percent of calories from fat, 23.4 grams fat (8.5 grams saturated, 11.2 grams monounsaturated), 44.1 milligrams cholesterol, 18.8 grams protein, 19.4 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams fiber, 1,616 milligrams sodium.

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