I am the Earl of Sandwich. Sandwiches are my favorite food. Like pasta, they can be as complicated or as simple as you like. This one brings simple ingredients like Genoa salami and fresh mozzarella to life. Salty, fatty, tangy, sweet fresh mozzarella- it blends melody and harmony. Point and counterpoint. And THIS bread. It’s everything. Oils from the pesto leak out during the baking and create this incredibly flavorful crips bottom crust. So pretty and so easy to slice and serve. This Italian pesto and Genoa salami muffuletta sandwich is no fuss once the bread is made (which can be done ahead of time). It makes a great addition to any picnic or party and is a fresh take on backyard get-togethers. Serve with chips. Impressive, tasty, done.
Braided Pesto Bread
Let’s talk about this bread for a minute. Strictly speaking, you don’t have to use braided pesto bread, but you should. As I mentioned before, the crunch on the bottom of this bread is everything. All the oils from the muffuletta olive mixture are going to drip down and saturate those tiny little bread holes and pesto swirls creating this incredible swamp of juicy sandwich flavor. Then you get the crunch from the crust which is basically fried bread. All the little food angels weep for perfection.
You can find a version of this braided bread here. Simply swap the basil and parm mixture for any homemade or storebought pesto of your liking. You may wish to line the pan with parchment paper as an alternative to just butter. A tutorial of this exact braided pesto bread is forthcoming.
So what is a Muffuletta sandwich?
A muffuletta is a classic New Orleans deli sandwich that’s loaded full of Italian meats, provolone, and olive oil-laden olive salad. Though clearly Italian in spirit, the muffuletta was crated by a grocer of the lower French Quarter named Mr. Salvator Lupo. As the story goes, he astutely noticed his lunchtime customers struggling to balance his muffuletta bread and other lunch items in their laps. Brilliantly and simply he started making the sandwiches to make life easier on his customers.
There are probably a trillion and one muffuletta recipes out there but the sandwich boils down to a few important notes. A muffuletta should have fatty rich meats and good salty olive salad with plenty of oil. Personally, I’m always a bit disappointed when the sandwich is served on soft crusted bread. A good crunchy bread adds that contrasting texture against the soft fillings and it helps keep those tasty oils in the sandwich. So personally, crusty bread is the third must-have for me. Some people prefer to pile on the meat. I tend to be rather conservative when it comes to bitting through stacks of fatty meat but, please, do as you will.
The one thing you absolutely should not skimp on is the olive salad. You could use tapenade or giardiniera with olives but it should be salty and dripping with oil. I have found a good olive salad actually called muffaletta from my grocer. It has little bits of carrot, onions, and pepper but is still heavy on the olives. You could also stop by any local Pot Bellies (not sponsored) and ask for a jar of their spicy giardiniera. It’s as good on fried eggs, grilled salt & pepper steaks, and baked potatoes as it is on sandwiches.
Muffuletta, Muffaletta, or Muffoletta?
Ah, basically, yes. Though muffuletta and muffaletta seem to be more popular spellings and “muffuletto” was supposed to be the name of the Sicilian bread the sandwich was named for.
Anyway… to the sandwich.
Italian Pesto and Genoa Salami Muffaletta Sandwich
Serves 4 for dinner without sides, 6-8 for dinner with sides. Would serve 16 as little bites at a potluck.
Skill: beginner (store-bought bread), Intermediate (homemade bread)
Flavor profile: rich, salty, fresh
- One loaf pesto braided bread, homemade (here) or storebought
- 4 oz dried whole milk mozzarella
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella
- 6 -8 oz Genoa salami
- 6 oz muffalatta olive salad or giardiniera mix (more or less to taste)
- A large handful of spring greens
- Slice the braided pesto loaf down the middle lengthwise.
- Top the bottom half with a generous amount of muffalatta olive salad or giardiniera mix.
- Add the salami and both kinds of cheese. I like to tear them up instead of slicing them.
- Add the salad greens and the top of the bread loaf.
- Slice to serve.
This Italian pesto and Genoa salami muffuletta sandwich be served right away or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to store in the fridge or stow away in a picnic basket but serve the same day.