New Orleans has a few famous sandwiches and among them is the muffaletta which was invented at Central Grocery. There are two things that make this sandwich memorable: fresh-baked muffaletta bread and made-from-scratch olive salad.
This recipe is a take on Central Grocery's olive salad mix and is an essential element of any muffuletta sandwich. Making the olive salad requires that you combine all of the ingredients and mix them in a food processor. It's very easy to do and, in the end, you will have a lot of olive salad. Once you've made it, you'll have plenty to use for days to come. Ideally, the olive salad should be made a day in advance to give the flavors time to meld. If stored in a jar with a good seal, it will keep in the refrigerator for months. If you tire of making muffaletta sandwiches but still have a lot of olive salad to spare, you can add it to a cheese plate, put it on other types of sandwiches, or mix it with mayonnaise for a creamier spread or dip.
- 3/4 cup green olives (pimento-stuffed)
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives (pitted)
- 1/4 cup giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables)
- 2 large pepperoncini
- 3 to 4 pickled onions
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 medium clove garlic (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Drain the green olives, kalamata olives, giardiniera, pepperoncini, pickled onions, and capers. Place them in a food processor along with the garlic, oregano, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Pulse until coarsely chopped.
Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
What Makes This Olive Salad so Amazing?
Beyond the lemon juice and olive oil base, every one of the ingredients in this olive salad mix has an intense flavor. This is definitely not a mild a sandwich ingredient and that is why it is so memorable. It would be best to follow the measurements given because it is a perfect balance of the flavors. While you may be familiar with most of the ingredients, a few may need a bit of explanation:
Giardiniera: This is a pre-made Italian style pickled vegetable mixture. It takes about two weeks to pickle this assortment of vegetables in a traditional Italian way. The process is very easy and to make it at home you will need cauliflower, onions, carrots, and celery. If you don't want to go through the hassle, giardiniera also can be purchased at many markets near the aisle with pickles.
Pepperoncini: These are very mild chile peppers that also come from Italy. They are similar in appearance and flavor to green banana peppers. The pepperoncino is slightly sweet and has a great tang that really adds a zip to the olive salad.
Capers: Capers are actually the dried flower buds of a plant that is native to the Mediterranean that is often found in Italian cuisine. The flavor is a salty-sour combination that is sought after in salads like this one.
Between these three ingredients and the two varieties of olives, the Muffaletta olive salad has a decidedly Mediterranean flair. It is the perfect companion for the salami, mortadella, provolone, and mozzarella found on the Italian bread sandwich it was developed for.