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Muffaletta with Olive Mix
Kevin Weeks for NPR /

In the mid-19th century, an influx of Italian immigrants to New Orleans affected the city's cuisine in many ways — including the birth of the muffaletta sandwich. This amazing meal consists of ham, salami, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella served on an 8-inch loaf of round, flattened bread (typically half- and quarter-sandwiches also are available). I've never seen the bread anywhere else, but recipes are available on the Internet. A good Italian loaf or a Kaiser roll will also work. The astounding thing about this sandwich, though, is the olive mix. The pungent combination of pimento-stuffed olives, kalamata olives, Italian pickled vegetables, garlic and olive oil is spread on the bottom of the heap. Ideally, the sandwich should be made an hour or more in advance and then tightly wrapped in plastic to enable the juices to soak the bread.

Makes 4 servings


1 loaf Italian bread or 4 Kaiser rolls

1 cup olive mix (recipe below)

1/4 pound sliced smoked ham

1/4 pound sliced mortadella (Italian bologna. If you can't find it, skip it.)

1/4 pound sliced Genoa salami

1/4 pound sliced provolone

1/4 pound sliced mozzarella

Cut bread in half horizontally. Spread half with olive mix, then layer on meats and cheeses. Top with other half of bread. If using muffaletta or Italian bread, slice into quarters before serving.

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