Traditional recipes

Food of the Day: Muffaletta in New Orleans

Food of the Day: Muffaletta in New Orleans

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This satisfying sandwich is a New Orleans staple

Today's food of the day: Muffaletta.

If you find yourself in New Orleans and hungry (very hungry), a good idea is to head over to a po’boy shop or café, and order a muffaletta. When visiting the city with my husband, we first encountered the muffaletta on the menu of Johnny's Po’boys, and the endless list of ingredients immediately intrigued my hungry man. It read something like this: ham, capicola, mortadella, salami, provolone, mozzarella, olives, artichoke hearts, capers, and pickled vegetables. Soon after the order was placed, a sandwich the size of my head dumped down on the red plastic tray in front of us, and even my hungry husband looked a little overwhelmed.

The Italian-American sandwich muffaletta, or muffuletta, as some prefer to spell it, is a staple New Orleans food, which found its way into this Southern city through Italian immigrants. Though the exact ingredients may vary, the common recipe consists of some sort of combination of Italian meats, cheeses, and a type of olive salad. All this is stuffed between a soft sesame-seed loaf, also called muffaletta, or substituted for a plain sub roll. Muffalettas are sold all over New Orleans, but it is the restaurant Central Grocery in the French Quarter that claims to be the one where the sandwich originated.

The one my husband devoured, was — at least in his opinion — delicious, and despite my doubts, almost all of the sandwich disappeared, and as we got up to leave the sandwich shop, all that was left on the paper plate was a few pieces of bread.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 4.75 ounce jar pimiento-stuffed olives, drained and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium-size round Italian bread (about 9 inches in diameter, 1-1/4 pounds), cut horizontally in half
  • ¼ pound sliced Genoa salami
  • ¼ pound sliced provolone cheese
  • ¼ pound sliced spicy Italian ham
  • ¼ pound sliced mozzarella

Mix olives, tomato, celery and garlic in bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar, seasoning, salt and pepper in another bowl. Add to olive mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Spoon 1 cup olive mixture over bottom half of bread. Layer on salami, provolone, ham and mozzarella. Top with remaining olive mixture. Cover with bread top. Wrap loaf in plastic place on baking sheet. Weight with heavy pot. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cut in 8 wedges. Makes 8 sandwiches.

Recipe Summary

  • 5 ounces pimento-stuffed olives (1 cup), sliced, plus 2 tablespoons of liquid from the jar
  • 6 ounces chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) (1 cup), plus 1 tablespoon of liquid from the jar
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, plus 2 teaspoons of liquid from the jar
  • 3 ounces pitted Calamata olives (1/2 cup), sliced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large loaf seeded Italian bread (about 1 1/4 pounds), split
  • 1/4 pound sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 6 ounces sliced capocollo or prosciutto
  • 1/4 pound sliced Genoa salami
  • 1/4 pound sliced mortadella
  • 1/4 pound sliced mild provolone cheese
  • Peperocini, for serving

In a medium bowl, stir the pimento-stuffed olives with the giardiniera, capers and their respective liquids. Add the Calamata olives, garlic, shallot, oregano, parsley, thyme and crushed red pepper. Stir in the olive oil and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.

Open the Italian bread on a work surface. Spoon the olive salad on both sides of the bread and spread evenly. Arrange the mozzarella slices on the bottom half of the bread, then top with the capocollo, Genoa salami and mortadella. Arrange the provolone cheese on the top half of the bread, covering the olive salad completely. Carefully close the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic and let stand for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Cut the sandwich into 8 pieces and serve peperoncini on the side.

You Say Muffaletta, I say Muffalatta: New Orleans Day 2 / Morning

Despite reports that New Orleans was set to get two days of heavy rain, we decided to set out early on our second day and do a little sightseeing before the forecasted rains moved in that afternoon.

Beignets at Café du Monde – As I said in my last post, when you are a tourist in New Orleans, there are a couple of things that you just have to do, a few local landmarks that it’s only right to pay homage to and Café du Monde is one of them. We got dressed and set out down Canal Street then down the river towards the famed Café du Monde. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except Christmas), tourists and locals alike can be found sitting in the open air coffee shop sipping on Café au Lait (pardon my French) and munching on Louisiana’s official state doughnut, French-style beignets. Operating since 1862 in a building that was once a meat market, it stands as the oldest tenant in the city’s oldest market.

Serena and I both ordered three Beignets and a cup of coffee. They were excellent, soft and covered in a mound of powdered sugar. It was our first time having Beignets and I am sure I looked like Al Pacino in Scarface with powdered sugar all over my face and shirt. So now that we have bowed our heads to the mecca of Beignets, I think we both felt a little underwhelmed by the overall experience. We loved Hack Bartholomew standing outside the open air café laying down some smooth trumpet and vocals. Both of us being history buffs, we loved eating in a place that has stood for so long. The Beignets were great but the atmosphere was something to be desired in my opinion. I almost sensed a “YOU EAT, YOU GO!” impersonal atmosphere from the army of Asian ladies scurrying in and out of the kitchen. One lady scolded me like an overworked lunch lady when I went to the counter to ask for a to-go coffee cup “YOU SIT DOWN….LADY COME YOU”. Regardless of my opinion of the service, the place deserves a stop alone on the fact that it’s been in the game for over 150 years only stopping to shelter from hurricanes and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ himself.

Talented People around Jackson Square

Jackson Square is a French Style Park about the size of a city block encased between Chartres, St. Peters and St. Ann Street. Built in 1721 the square has seen its share of history. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was used for public executions of disobedient slaves. In 1873, it was the site of the Battle of Jackson Square which took place on the heels of a disputed Gubernatorial race when Governor wanna-be John McEnery beat back the New Orleans Militia to take control of state buildings until the Feds came and sent him packing. The aforementioned streets around the square were closed to make a pedestrian area and you can find local artists and musicians occupying the mall and entertaining people with their craft.

Devin trying to figure out if this is a tuba or sousaphone.

We stopped for a few minutes and watched an artist on the corner of St. Ann and Chartres Steet painting a picture of Muriel’s Bistro across the street. Around the corner a man was blowing life into a sousaphone and when I came closer with the baby (now strapped to my chest) he broke into Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Devin gazed at his battle-tested instrument that had duct tape circling the base and the bell was adorned with stickers making it clear what city the owner hailed from.

We made our way back through the French Quarter towards our hotel to take cover from clouds that were threatening to open the sky up.

Muffaletta at Serio’s Deli – By lunchtime it was still raining but lucky for us Serio’s Deli was about 50 feet from the front door of our hotel. The Serio brothers beat Bobby Flay like a red headed stepchild in a muffaletta throw down a few years back and I had a chance to stop in three years ago before a bachelor (NOTE: muffaletta’s are a great base for pre-bachelor party drinking).

A muffaletta from Serio’s Deli

So what is a Muffaletta? It’s a huge sandwich that was invented by Italian immigrants in the French quarter at Central Market around the start of the 20th century. A large round loaf of bread by the same name holds ham, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, provolone and a marinated olive salad. A half of a sandwich is enough for two people unless you are that man vs food guy.

Next post, we ride the street car then visit the birthplace of African American music in the Delta.


&bull 3/4 cup mixed olives, pitted
&bull 1 tablespoon capers
&bull 1/4 c. roasted red peppers, chopped
&bull 2 tablespoons parsley
&bull 1/2 cup giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetables)
&bull 1 garlic clove, minced
&bull 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
&bull 1/4 cup olive oil
&bull 1 round loaf French or Italian-style bread
&bull 1/2 lb. soppressata, thinly sliced
&bull 1/2 lb. capicola, thinly sliced
&bull 1/2 lb mortadella, thinly sliced
&bull 1/2 lb. provolone, thinly sliced

Make this Mardi Gras muffaletta and other tasty New Orleans staples for Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is here and one chef who has honed his Southern roots shared delicious recipes to ensure the last day before Lent is filled with fabulous food.

Blue Smoke executive chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois may be known for his New York City-based Southern joint, but he kicked off his career down South boiling crawfish, crabs and shrimp in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

"It's really just celebrating with your family, with your friends - before you cool it down before Lent," Bourgeois said about what Mardi Gras means to him.

His restaurant and food represent a revived take on Southern cuisine, and he made two classic recipes on "GMA" that are perfect for any Mardi Gras celebration.

Mardi Gras muffaletta

This New Orleans staple is made with traditional bread that can be hard to come by -- so Chef Bourgeois demonstrated how to make it from scratch.

1 large round bread loaf, 8 to 9 inches in diameter.
Note: Traditional muffaletta bread will be hard to come by in some places. You can likely order it online or sub it with a soft crust boule roll or ciabatta.
1 cup Creole olive salad
4 ounces salami, thinly sliced
4 ounces cappicola, thinly sliced
4 ounces mortadella, or deli ham, thinly sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 ounces provolone, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pickled pepperoncini, for garnish


Slice bread loaf in half, horizontally, and remove enough of crumb to make room for fillings.
Layer the olive salad, meats and cheeses on the bottom half of the bread. Allow this sandwich to sit for at least an hour and up to 48 hours in your fridge. This will allow all the meats, olives, and oil to marry together to make an unforgettable sandwich.

Grilled Andouille sausage with spicy caramelized onions

"What is New Orleans without a little booze in your food?" Bourgeois asked. He adds beer to the onions which he said reduces down to give the alliums a sweet and spicy aroma.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large onions, peeled and cut in half, then cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon salt
Tabasco Red pepper sauce
8 ounces beer (light lager preferred)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar


In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until hot.
Add onions and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
Add beer and continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the liquid is cooked out.
Remove from heat and finish your onions with salt, black pepper, brown sugar and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.

Recipes courtesy of Jean-Paul Bourgeois, executive chef at Blue Smoke


This round Italian bread typically filled with cold cuts, cheese, and olive salad originated in New Orleans. The only rule? Don't skimp on the filling!

pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped

large jarred pepperoncini peppers, finely chopped

capers, rinsed and roughly chopped

round loaf bread (about 8-in. diameter 1 lb)

thinly sliced capicola ham

thinly sliced Genoa salami

12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and each split

thinly sliced provolone cheese, about 8 slices

  1. In a medium bowl, combine olives, peppers, parsley, oil, vinegar, capers, and ¼ tsp pepper.
  2. Split bread in half and scoop out the inside of both the top and bottom, leaving a ½-in.-thick shell.
  3. Spread olive mixture on the cut sides of the bread and form a large sandwich with remaining ingredients.
  4. Wrap whole sandwich in plastic wrap and place on a large plate. Place a second plate on top and weigh down with heavy cans. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Cut in wedges to serve.

PER SERVING 505 calories, 28 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 26 g protein, 2,120 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber


Can you make this the night before?

Yes, you certainly can. Muffaletta actually tastes even better when it can sit overnight! It's best to eat between 2 to 24 hours after it has been assembled. It also travels well in a cooler, so it's great for picnics or tailgating.

How many calories are in one serving?

If this large sandwich is cut into 12 wedges, one wedge would have 499 calories and 29.6g carbs. For more nutritional information, scroll past the recipe card.

What can you serve with this recipe?

To round out your meal, you might want to consider serving potato chips, homemade giardiniera or other pickled vegetables like pepperoncini.

A Backup Muffaletta Plan in New Orleans’ French Quarter

In the past, I had always headed straight for Central Grocery when I was craving a muffaletta in New Orleans. Their overstuffed sandwich is mighty, meaty, and legendary. Frank’s Restaurant is located just a couple doors down — in the shadows of the old French Market and Cafe Du Monde. Central Grocery, our old standby, happened to be closed the day we stopped by. Bummer! Undeterred, we plowed ahead towards Frank’s place. I had seen them recently on a Food Network feature, so I knew the muffaletta would get the job done — and it did.

A rainy morning had given way to a muggy afternoon in The Big Easy.

A close-up look at Frank’s Muffaletta (above) – it’s a thing of beauty that feeds a family of 4 or two hungry adults for about $12. My son Travis (a true gourmet at the ripe old age of 14) commented that Frank’s meat/bread ratio was slightly bread heavy compared to Central Grocery. You know something? He was right on the money. However, Frank’s makes a pretty darn good Italian sandwich and I was just happy to get my fix of deli meats, crusty bread and pickled olive salad that late Sunday afternoon.

The hometown Saints were on the tube above the bar and things were not exactly going well. The manager bellowed “Your Daddy’s Saints are back, y’all” as the Super Bowl champs went down in flames to the lowly Cleveland Browns. The full house of diners at Frank’s seemed distraught, yet how upset could I get with a belly full of muffaletta?

We even picked up a large (32 oz.) jar of Frank’s olive spread to take home with us. Our waitress gestured towards a small dining table near the door as we made our exit. I discretely glanced over and spotted none other than Joseph Gannoscoli, who played Vito Spatofore in the HBO series, “The Soprano’s.” Pretty cool, huh?

Muffaletta (New Orleans Olive and Meat Sandwich)

When traveling with friends and family, experience has taught me to have the group sign off on a “book of rules” before making travel arrangements. We must agree that no offense be taken for those of us who want to “do our own thing”.

My “own thing” often involves myopic food quests which may be annoying to fellow travel companions. My last trip to New Orleans involved such an adventure.

I was told by locals that the Central Grocery’s muffaletta was the best muffaletta in New Orleans. I organized an entire vacation day to insure I was in that district of town at the lunch hour.

I arrived around 1:15 only to find they were sold out. I could have purchased a muffaletta sandwich at dozens of other area locations, but I was certain this particular muffaletta was the Holy Grail.

To my family’s irritation, the next day I skipped plans to visit the New Orlean’s aquarium with them to insure I’d get the coveted sandwich. I purchased the sandwich and it was enormous and delicious. Problem was, it wasn’t the transcendental experience I had anticipated–no doubt because I had to eat it alone.

The olive spread is what makes the sandwich special, but the round, seeded Italian bread is an important piece of the pie. I couldn’t find anything like the bread that Central Grocery used in Ann Arbor, but I did find a large Italian round freshly baked bread that was delicious .

Watch the video: The Muffuletta: How This Gigantic New Orleans Sandwich Was Born. Good Gumbo (June 2022).