How To Make Muffuletta-Style Pasta Salad

A Healthier Way to Enjoy the Flavors of a Classic New Orleans Sandwich

I don't know why it happened, but I woke up this morning and wanted a Muffuletta Sandwich. If you've ever been to New Orleans you know about the Muffuletta Sandwich, or "muff" as the locals call it. Maybe you even had one. The Central Grocery Company in the city takes credit for inventing the sandwich -- a heavenly combination of crusty bread, hard salami, ham, Provolone cheese, and tangy olive salad.

According to "Betty Crocker's American Country Cooking" cook book, it's the olive salad. "a pungent pickled vegetable mixture that garnishes the cold cut filling" that makes the sandwich a star. The olive salad must be made ahead of time and chilled to blend the flavors. But the sandwich is served at room temperature. A true Muffuletta Sandwich, notes the whatscookingamerica.net Web site, "must be served at room temperature, never toasted; it is considered blasphemy to toast the sandwich."

Delicious as they are Muffuletta Sandwiches take a long time to make. I know, because I made them, and my olive salad was made from scratch. You can buy pre-made salad, but it doesn't taste as good as home made. Though I wanted a Muffuletta Sandwich, it is high in fat and salt, two things I am cutting back on these days.

Could I enjoy the flavors of a Muffuletta Sandwich in a salad? The answer is a resounding yes, because I came up with this recipe. To lighten the recipe I used less hard salami, less Provolone cheese, fewer olives, and eliminated the ham. Read the recipe and you will see that the salad has more veggies than pasta. I love Muffuletta-Style Pasta Salad and I think you will, too. Here are the ingredients.

Buy the salad and salad dressing ingredients a day beforehand.

SALAD:

  • 1 cup of chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (from a bag)
  • 1/2 cup sliced salad olives with pimiento
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Kalmata olives, halved
  • 5 slices hard salami, cut in thin strips
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese, cut in thin strips
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat rotini (spiral pasta)

DRESSING:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (may be omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook the pasta. You may cook it the day before to save preparation time. Be careful not to overcook the pasta -- it should be a bit chewy. Drain in a colander and set aside or refrigerate until needed.
  2. Make the salad dressing. If you are one of those people who makes a face when you hear the word anchovy, you may omit the anchovy paste. I made the dressing in a jelly jar, put the lid on, and shook it well. You may wish to do the same.
  3. Chop the red and green peppers and put them in a large bowl.
  4. Add the remaing salad ingredients.
  5. Pour dressing over salad and combine gently with a rubber scraper.
  6. Chill the salad for at least two hours to blend flavors. You may also chill the salad overnight.

If you are not watching your fat and salt intake, add more salami, cheese, and olives to the recipe. Are you stumped on a luncheon menu? Serve Muffuletta-Style Pasta Salad on Boston lettuce leaves and garnish with roasted red peppers from a jar. For dessert, serve chickory coffee and a chocolate dessert or pralines. Your guests will feel like they are in New Orleans.

 

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