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Hump day gruffle: muffaletta

I'll probably keep doing this until I run out of foods (unlikely) or SBN tells me to knock it off (much more likely).

What's your favorite part of the weekend? If you said anything other than the menu, this post probably isn't for you. For those of you who stuck around, prepare to be delighted. Since it's the summer time and I've got crap else to do on a basketball blog, I'm going to hit you with something on Wednesday to give you time to work it into your weekend menu. If you're here for the basketball stuff only, just hang around and we'll have more of that later in the day.

Muffaletta is technically a fairly specific set of ingredients on a very specific sort of bread. Unless you live in/around New Orleans though, it's sometimes a little bit tricky to get that level of specificity. What I make is a pretty fair bastardization of it, and you can find everything you need at your local grocery.

2 loaves of Italian bread

1 pound hard salami

1 pound ham

1 pound cheese (I prefer provolone, but any mild white cheese will do)

2 jars giardiniera (the Tuscan Garden kind from Aldi is fine; I prefer the hot, but who the heck am I?)

1 jar green olives

1 head of iceberg lettuce

1 red onion

1 green bell pepper

Cut the top out of the Italian loaves like Subway used to. Also, save the bags the bread came in. You want to go down through the top and leave a canoe-shaped shell of bread behind. Scoop out most of the interior, leaving a hollow hull. Construction is important at this point: your cheese goes down first; this protects the bread from everything that's about to happen to it. After that, pile on the meat.

Oh! Don't forget about the olive salad. Strain the liquid from the giardiniera and the brine from the olives, then throw the whole mess into your food processor. Mix until the chunks are about what you'd expect from pickle relish.

If you have a mandolin, run the red onion and green bell pepper through it on one of the thinner settings. If not, just chop them thin with a knife like out pilgrim forefathers. Core the lettuce then cut it in half and half again. Then shred it by cutting each quarter into strips no more than half an inch thick. Now you're ready; let's get back to the sandwich, already in progress.

Layer on the thinly-sliced onion and green peppers to taste; you might not use them all, and that's okay. The pile on the lettuce to nearly fill the capacity of the bread canoe. Finally, layer on the olive salad, which is the soul of the sandwich. Once everything is put together, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and slide it back into the bag the bread came from. The juices from the olive salad will permeate the layers beneath, imbruing them with delicious flavor. Don't fret; the use of waterproof layers at the bottom of the sandwich will keep the whole thing from becoming a soggy mess.

Anyway, let it rest in the fridge at least overnight, then dig in. This will make two sandwiches, enough to feed 6 adults unless you're all super hungry.