Friday, September 7, 2012

Form Following Function

Do you know what I love most about "touring" other countries via their cuisine - other than the food? I learn things!

The other day, I posted this photo on my Facebook page and asked it anyone knew what this was:

Isn't it beautiful? 

Obviously, it's bread, but it's a very special kind of Italian bread. Anyone?

It's an Italian muffuletta! 

So, what's a muffuletta? It's a large, round, flat loaf of bread used for muffuletta sandwiches. It looks a lot like a focaccia, doesn't it? 

Like I said, it's used in muffuletta sandwiches. In fact, it's key to the muffuletta sandwich. Ask any muffuletta expert and they'll tell you it's not a muffuletta without the bread.

This bread originated in Sicily and it's been around for a long time. How it came to be a sandwich is kind of cool:

"According to Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the Central Grocery's founder, it was born when Sicilian farmers selling their produce at the nearby Farmers' Market would come into her father's grocery for lunch and order some salami, ham, cheese, olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or a round muffuletta loaf. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately sitting on crates or barrels while precariously balancing their meals on their knees. Her father suggested cutting the bread and putting everything on it like a sandwich, even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. The thicker braided Italian bread proved too hard to bite and the softer round muffuletta loaf won out. Shortly, farmers came to merely ask for a "muffuletta" for their lunch." (

I couldn't find muffuletta bread in Sioux Falls, so I went online and found a recipe. The one I used can be found at this LINK. I did make just one adjustment to this wonderful recipe:  I used a bread machine to mix the dough. The steps I used were these:

Muffuletta Bread

  1. Visit the link above for the muffuletta bread recipe.
  2. Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and shortening.
  4. Add the flours.
  5. Set the bread machine for the "dough" cycle and turn on the machine.
  6. When the bread machine stops mixing and the dough begins to rise, I like to spread a little bit of olive oil, using a pastry brush, on top of the dough to keep it from drying out. You don't have to do this, if you don't want to or if you forget.
  7. Once the dough cycle is complete, just follow the instructions at the recipe LINK.

When you're done, you'll have a beautiful loaf of bread that's perfect for sandwiches. I think I may have found my "go-to" recipe for sub-style sandwiches! And you won't believe how unbelievably light this bread is. So good!!

Now, on to the muffuletta sandwich!

The origin of this sandwich can be traced back to Italian immigrants in New Orleans. The signature of the muffuletta sandwich is the olive salad which is made of diced olives, celery, cauliflower, and carrots in a giardiniera, seasoned with oregano and garlic, and covered in olive oil. All of this marinates for at least 24 hours before becoming part of the sandwich. My mouth is watering just describing the olive salad to you! You're off to a GREAT start with the bread and olive salad alone, but to all that deliciousness you add salami, ham, mozzarella, and provolone!

Well, my son doesn't like olives, so I tried a replacement - an artichoke hearts salad. I was thinking if I chopped the artichoke hearts small enough, my son wouldn't notice. He did, but it didn't stop him from enjoying the sandwich!

You can find a recipe for a more traditional muffuletta HERE.

Here's my version:

Muffuletta Sandwich

Serves:  6 - 8

1 - 6 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained (reserve the liquid) and chopped

2 - 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (use fresh, if you can - you'll love it!)

1/4 cup reserved liquid from artichoke hearts

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 - 1/2 lb. sliced Italian or Genoa salami (depending on how much you'd like on your sandwich)

1/4 - 1/2 lb. sliced ham (depending on how much you'd like on your sandwich)

1/4 - 1/2 lb. sliced Provolone cheese (depending on how much you'd like on your sandwich)

3 medium tomatoes, sliced

1 muffuletta bread, sliced horitonally (like a hamburger bun)

Several hours or the day before, combine the artichoke hearts, garlic, basil, reserved artichoke hearts liquid, and vinegar in a bowl. Stir to mix well and cover. Marinate in the refrigerator.

To assemble the sandwich:

Arrange the salami on the bottom half of the muffuletta bread . . . . 

Next, arrange the ham on top of the salami . . . . 

Now for the cheeses (I forgot to pick up mozzarella, so we just had Provolone. It was still good.) . . . .

The tomatoes . . . .

And then the artichoke salad (I used a slotted spoon to spread the salad over the tomatoes and then used a brush to spread the very flavorful salad juice on the top half of the bread) . . . .

Place the top half on the bottom, cut into wedges (or slices), and . . . .


This post is linked to the following:



  1. Thank you so much! I so want to make this!! Pinned :)

    1. Hi Jamie! How are you? Thank you so much for coming by. It was really, really good - especially the bread which didn't get soggy, at all. I'm inspired to try the "real" version of the muffuletta with the olive salad. I hope you enjoy it!!

  2. Wow! It is indeed a very large bread. I could not believe myself when I see the photo of the bread in the cooling rack. However, after you turn the bread into sandwich wedges, it looks really yummy and very appealing!

    1. Hello Christine! Thank you for stopping by! I'm a huge bread lover and I think this is some of the best tasting bread I've had. It also has a really great texture, especially for sandwiches. I hope you enjoy it, if you decide to give it a try. It's so easy to make!

  3. Wrong time of day to look at this! My mouth is watering. Off to lunch and the store. Have to revise my list though. visitng from Flour Me with Love.

    1. Hi Linda! Thank you so much for coming by! It's a great sandwich (and bread!) and I can't wait to try the "real" muffuleta next time. Thank you again for visiting!

  4. Absolutely love Muffaletta!! Have not attempted to make, but you definitely just inspired me my friend!!

    1. Hi Didi! The bread is off-the-chart good! And when you start with something that good, what you build on it just has to be better, right? I hope you enjoy the sandwich. Still waiting to see more wedding photos! They never come fast enough, do they? Have a GREAT week, Didi!!

  5. This is awesome!
    I have to tell you that here the muffaletta is totally different. It's more like pancakes.
    I've never heard of Italian muffaletta but this is something I just have to try!

    1. Hi Winnie! Thank you for stopping by and sharing about muffulettas where you live. Isn't it fun how different foods means different things depending where you live? I hope you enjoy this version of it! The bread alone is wonderful. Have a great week!!

  6. Good Morning Stephanie! Just wanted to let you know I picked this fabulous sandwich as my personal favorite from last weeks Weekend Potluck. I can't wait to make this for a tailgate this fall. Thanks for being such a friend to the Weekend Potluck and I can't wait to see what you bring this week. Have a terrific weekend!

    1. Oh my gosh! Thank you SO MUCH for choosing the muffuletta sandwich as your personal favorite! I'm so excited! I hope you enjoy the sandwich when you give it a try. It's a favorite here! Thanks, again and have a terrific weekend!

  7. This looks so delicious. I need to try to make this bread. Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday. Hope to see you tomorrow.

    1. Thank you! I couldn't believe how great the muffuletta bread is for sandwiches! I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for hosting Tout It Tuesday.


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