My mother brought this treasured recipe into our family from a trip to New Orleans. A muffaletta sandwich is a kind of sandwich that originated in the French Quarter made up of layers of Italian deli meats and cheeses served on round Italian bread with an olive spread, and it is the olive spread that earns the concoction its distinction. However, as my mom learned, the spread can be enjoyed just as much on its own, with pieces of French bread
or specialty crackers used to scoop up as much as can be carefully balanced.
I can’t remember the first time I made the muffaletta spread, but I know that I brought it once as an appetizer to Thanksgiving. We were spending the holiday with my husband’s family that year, and it was such a big hit that it’s now my perennial assignment. (Jeremy, of course, is not so thrilled about this – he’d rather I bring basil cheese triangles or toasted ravioli, than what he’s dubbed the “icky purple stuff.”)
This year, my sister-in-law Melissa missed out on the muffaletta at Thanksgiving, so I told her perhaps I’d make it for Christmas Eve. You should think about it too – easy, super delicious, and you probably already have half the ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry.
As this will be my last posting in 2011, let me add that I am grateful for the place that food holds in our culture. It gives us the opportunity to come together around the people we love and share in celebrations and sorrows, in everyday and extraordinary. I can’t wait to make and share Christmas Eve lasagna with Jeremy’s parents and siblings (which is a tradition I carry on from my mom), and then to soak in the aromas and conversations that will swirl around my parents’ kitchen during the creation of one wonderful meal after another and offer time to catch up with my own brother and sister, her husband, my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins. I feel truly blessed.
- 1 cup pitted Spanish green olives
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh horseradish (you can substitute prepared if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Dash of Tabasco
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ cup olive oil
Combine first 10 ingredients (all except olive oil) in the food processor until you reach a coarse consistency. Stir in oil. Refrigerate for one hour, then serve.