Roasted vegetables are a thing of beauty, with their intense flavor and wonderful textural qualities, with just a hint of smokiness from the grill. With good bread, then make a wonderful Muffuletta that would make New Orleans proud! Muffuletta is to New Orleans, what the Cuban Sandwich is to Miami. And there’s a reason…it’s a great sandwich. It usually includes slices of salami, pepperoni, cheeses, ham, and always, always an olive salad. The Goddess loves olives. They’re salty. They’re briny and sharp. They’re bite-sized. And when pressed, they ooze a wonderful elixir…olive oil! Olive salad is really a mixture of chopped olives and various things, not a salad per se, more of a spread. You need to do is make the Olive “Salad” at least a day ahead. Many recipe The Goddess has perused used only green olives, but she loves to use a combination of green and black, as well as different types of both green and black. The supermarket olive bar is a decent place to start. You may chop all the ingredients in the food processor, but The Goddess likes chunky, so she prefers to chop the ingredients by hand. Make certain your knife is razor-sharp before you start chopping.
So you need to make the salad ahead, and you can, in fact, make the salad days ahead and roast the veggies, as well. There they are, just sitting in the fridge, marinating away and developing some wonderful flavors.
Find some good bread, which can be a tad tricky. You need the interior of the loaf to be somewhat substantial, and the crust needs to be crispy, but not so you can’t bite through it. Ciabatta fits the bill for the proper interior, but the crust is much too chewy. I used a loaf of supermarket Italian, which isn’t perfect, as I couldn’t find sour dough. It worked, but not as well as the preferred sour dough would have. Pull a bit of the bread out of the center of the loaf, leaving about a 3/4-inch border (don’t throw it away; dry it and make crumbs…we do not waste!). I usually toast the bread lightly. It was essential in this case and it helped make up for the lackluster texture a bit.
Before you start, get all the goodies you’re planning to use out of the fridge, line them up. I usually forget to do this, in my glee to complete this epicurean delight and get it into the fridge, so I can consume it in all its glory. But, you should really do that, because you’re smarter than I am…and much more organized. Now you’ve ripped that bread out of the center and now you’ll begin layering. I appears that in my haste to finish this “torpedo” (it kind of looks like that when you finish it and wrap in plastic wrap), I neglected to take pictures of the layering process. But, thank Goddess you’re smarter than I am, and can figure our what layering means. For cheeses, I chose smoked mozzarella and Swiss cheese. I would have smeared some goat cheese on, but I didn’t think of it…that too, is a great addition.You’re going to tightly wrap the final loaf in plastic wrap (you can see that torpedo-shape, right?) and chill for several hours or overnight. This sandwich is greatly refreshing any time of the year, bringing back memories of summer’s past, games won and lost, picnics with friends and lovers….
New Orleans-Style Chopped Olive Salad
- 2 cups good quality black olives (I use the olive bar olives), chopped
- 2 cups drained pimento-stuffed salad olives, chopped
- 14-18 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced (not oil-packed)
- 1 onion, cut in half and grilled until almost tender, then chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped or put through a press (you may use raw or roasted)
- 1/4 cup well-drained capers, chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or part balsamic)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped celery hearts
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a large glass bowl; mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into a large glass jar, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This gets better with age, much like all women. This keeps for at least a couple of months in the fridge. But, you’ll use if before then.
NOTE: It’s great on burgers, stuffed into chicken breasts with some ricotta, smeared on pizza, etc. It is an essential part of a muffuletta sandwich. You can use this as an antipasto, if you leave the olives whole, and coarsely chop anything else that needs to be chopped. You can add artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, julienned lemon zest, etc. I hand chop the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and onions, but you can put them in a food processor and let the machine do the work. I prefer a chunkier mixture and with the food processor, it’s a bit more difficult to control the texture.
New Orleans-Style Chopped Olive Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
You’re going to want roasted veggies; I used Marinated Eggplant, which I posted earlier. I grilled the zucchini and peppers (jarred roasted peppers are okay, too. You can make roasted peppers year-round. They are a great harbinger of summer, in the depth of winter. Make a simple roasted pepper salad, drizzled with good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a nice sprinkle of fresh herbs.I made a triple batch of Katie’s Roasted Mushrooms the way KayJay likes them. They are so good, I wanted extra and I just took what I needed for the muffaletta. You can grill the mushrooms, but if you do, the larger portobella’s would probably work best, then slice them on the thinner side and go from there. One last thing, I usually to drizzle just a bit of simple vinaigrette over the olive salad, after I’ve spread it on the bread. I just like the extra moisture and zip it gives the veggies, but you do what you wish. Remember to salt and pepper the roasted veggies.
I kept this veggie only, but you can add tuna, sliced tomatoes and hard-boiled egg slices…think Muffuletta Nicoise. Sometimes, I add slices of avocados, coarsely chopped artichokes, sliced hearts of palm and for cheese, use what you like, but goat cheese, brie and some creamy bleu are all nice (not necessarily together). This is your sandwich. It’s delicious; it transcends seasons. Oh yes…this veggie version is great served hot. Just wrap the loaf in foil and heat in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted. MMMMM…melted cheese and roasted veggies…life is good.