Olive Salad Recipe for a Muffaletta Sandwich

Muffaletta close up of olive spread
Carnaval King 08/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 10 servings
Ratings (21)

A good muffaletta sandwich starts with a great olive salad recipe like this one.

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. It 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. That's okay because this makes every muffaletta sandwich after the first one that much easier to whip up.

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.

What You'll Need

  • 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

How to Make It

  1. 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.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. 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 intense flavors. While you may be familiar with most of the ingredients, a few may need a bit of explanation:

  • Giardiniera: It takes about two weeks to pickle this assortment of vegetables in a traditional Italian way. The process is very easy and for produce, 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.
  • 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.

You may have noticed that 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.