N’Awlins-Style Muffaletta Sandwich: Aww, cher…make ya say “Aieee!”


One of my favorite sandwiches in this big wide world is a good New Orleans style muffaletta. Like most muffaletta virgins, I had my first at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Once you’ve dined at the birthplace of any great food, nothing else will ever compare. And while our version comes pretty close, you should definitely stop by Central the next time you’re in the French Quarter and try the original. It’s a N’Awlins tradition – like Mardi Gras parades with beads, beignets at Cafe du Monde, or hurricanes at Pat O’Briens. Nobody does food and fun like New Orleans, but here’s how we try to harness the party at our house.


NanaBread’s Muffaletta Sandwich:
1 round sourdough bread boule
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound thin-sliced deli ham (not a sweet one; use old-fashioned baked ham)
4 slices of provolone cheese
1/3 cup of mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, people; use the good stuff)
1 small can of chopped black olives (4.25 ozs.; you only need half of the can)
24 small pimento-stuffed green olives
2 Tbsp. of juice from the green olive jar (trust me)
3 Tbsp. Italian Olive Salad Mix (optional, but use it if you can find it)

Start by slicing your sourdough boule horizontally; you’ll want the bottom to be about 1″ thick. Using your fingers or a spoon, remove some of the excess bread from the top, leaving a deep indentation in the dome of your boule. Drizzle one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over each half of the bread. If you need to, use your fingers to work the oil out to the edges and into the nooks and crannies. Place both halves oiled side down on a griddle until the bread is a beautiful golden brown. (If you don’t have a griddle, a non-stick skillet works just as well.) I also like to weigh down the top so the surface is pressed down onto the griddle.

While the bread is toasting, chop the green olives, open the can of black olives, and spoon out 3 tablespoons of Italian Olive Salad mix; set aside. One quick side note about the Italian Olive Salad: you may be wondering why I use olives AND an olive salad mix together. The answer is that the olive salad mix also contains a mouth-watering mix of other vegetables (cauliflower, peppers, carrots, celery) and spices preserved in olive oil. Do you have to use it? No. But if you can find it, the olive salad will add another extraordinary layer of flavor. Trust me.

Once your bread is toasted to a beautiful, crispy golden brown, remove it from the griddle and place both sides face up on a cutting board. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and olive juice and blend until smooth (it will be a little on the thin side). Dress each half of the bread with the mayonnaise mixture. Make sure you spread it all the way out to the edges. It’s imperative. Okay, really it’s just so all the olives stick. Next, sprinkle your green olives and olive salad on the top half, and the black olives on the bottom half. Don’t fret about separating friends. They’re all coming to the party in the end. You’ll see.

Layer your thin-sliced ham over the top of your black olives, making sure the ham goes all the way out to the edges again. (Remember – no honey or maple glazed ham, please! It will ruin the flavor of the sandwich. You really just need a simple old-fashioned or baked deli ham here.) Arrange your provolone cheese slices over the top of your green olives. Place both halves face-up on a baking sheet and toast them under the broiler until the ham warms and the cheese turns into this gooey, gorgeous golden hue. Remove from the broiler.

Using a spatula, flip the top half onto the bottom half to bring your sandwich together. Everyone is at the party now, and they are all getting along famously. It’s world peace in a sourdough boule. Allow your muffaletta to rest for at least 5 minutes before you cut it. It will be hard. It may even seem impossible. If you need a distraction, grab an Abita Beer, a bag of Zapp’s Cajun Crawtator chips, and a handful of napkins. Once you’re ready, grab a serrated bread knife and cut the muffaletta into wedges, like you’re slicing a pie. Mmmmm….pie.

Don’t get fancy here and try to serve this on a real plate. This is bar hopping food. You want to slap that sucker on a paper plate or wrap it in a little butcher paper. Then settle in with your muffaletta, your cold Abita beer, that bag of zesty, crunchy Cajun crawtators and let your mind slip away to an enchanted land of live oaks, Spanish moss, warm breezes, hot beignets and hotter jazz. Oh, New Orleans…you are unforgettable. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “N’Awlins-Style Muffaletta Sandwich: Aww, cher…make ya say “Aieee!”

  1. KJ

    Kill me now. That’s one of my all-time fav sandwiches! I’m going to save this so I can make it – using turkey. Not a fan of ham but I’ll pull out your last eyelash for a slab of bacon.
    Love the pink polish, btw! :-)
    P.S. Not sure where the eyelash comment came from or what exactly it means…it just came out of my possessed fingers. I am not responsible.

    • Hahahaha…thanks, KJ. I’m not going to kill you, and I’m a little afraid of that eyelash comment, but I’m glad I hit on one of your favorites. I’m sure it would be perfectly delicious with turkey. Not traditional, by any means, but who says you can’t break the rules now and then. Right?

  2. Big Sis

    Yum!! You are making me hungry!!

  3. I’m so glad you posted this! Muffaletta’s are one of my favorites! Yours looks so good…I can’t wait to make it!

  4. Please adopt me. I just want to sit in your kitchen, watch you cook, and listen to you describe the world. Your blog has become a delicious distraction for me. I look forward to each post. This one transported me back to one of the best places on the earth. mmmm. mmmm. mmmm.
    Laissez les bon temps rouler, mon amie!

    • Oh, Skye…this one is going into my collection of favorite comments. Thanks so much! I’ll have to get back to you on the adoption proposal. It took me 10 years to talk TCP into letting me get a dog. Not sure how he’d react to adopting readers. But I’ll be sure to ask. PS – Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic is ahead of you. Sorry, but she asked first. Until then, have a muffaletta and some crunchy crawtators and let you mind slip away to an enchanted land of live oaks……..

  5. Rhea (clabbergirl)

    Just how many beads do you have? Oh man, I suddenly have a craving for crawdads. Thanks for this, my friend. I will make it next week, to be sure! Are you putting it on TK?

  6. I don’t even like olives (the horror, I know), but I think I would eat every last bite of this sandwich and then lick all of my fingers.
    *slurp*

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  8. God bless you! My best friend and I spent ONE day in NO last August. We ordered this sandwich by chance and simultaneously decided that THIS was God’s gift to women. We were planning a return trip solely to eat another one of these, but finances got in the way. I cannot wait to surprise her with this tonight. She’s going to die <3

    • Kayla, that’s so cool! I’m glad I could hook you up with a recipe so you could make them at home. You’ll have to let me know what your friend’s reaction is. I’m guessing she’s going to be stunned. Good luck & enjoy! -j

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  10. I love how you toast the bread and then love the way you toast the meat and cheese before putting the whole sandwich together. When I made my first Muffuletta I put the whole sandwich together, wrapped it in foil, and placed it in the oven for 20 minutes, not knowing what the recipe (on the side of the jar meant by “put sandwich together and heat.” So, it was a pleasure bumping into your blog today. I also just thought I would add that I found the Italian Olive Salad at my local Walmart, in the isle where the pickles and pickled vegetables are (on the top shelf). And according to the recipe on the side of that jar, traditional Muffulettas have three meats: hard Genoa salami, ham, and mortadella — and swiss or provolone for the cheese. It’s a fabulous sandwich. I’m also plannning on taking your chicken shawarma for a spin, or a wrap, or a fold, maybe. Thanks for posting it. I’ll have to get a photo of my Iron Man and all our superhero friends sitting around enjoying it! Ha. :)

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