Cheesy Muffaletta a la Panini

Just what is a Muffaletta, or Muffuletta? It is a specialty sandwich of New Orleans, originally made with cheese and meat, such as salami and ham. But the crown flavor of this sandwich is the tanginess from the olive spread, also known as a “Tapenade.” Many would say that this sandwich is very similar to a Hero, but let’s not say that out loud!

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This giant sandwich was invented about 100 years ago, by Sicilian Immigrants that settled in New Orleans, Louisiana. For this newly-twisted sandwich the tapenade has been given a modern taste, with the addition of pickled jalapeños added to the olive spread and then the sandwich is toasted on a Panini grill. The result is a fabulously wonderlicious sandwich that will have you humming with every bite.

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Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!

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Recipe makes 6 individual Muffaletta Paninis

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STEPS 1 (olive tapenade):

1 cup black olives (measured before chopping), finely chopped

1 cup green olives pimento stuffed (measured before chopping), finely chopped

1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (measured before chopping), finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery (1-rib)

1/4 cup capers (measured before chopping), finely chopped

1/4 cup [hot] jalapeños (measured before chopping), finely chopped

2 [large] garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a non-reactive bowl mix all ingredients until well blended. Cover the bowl and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will allow the flavors to meld into deliciousness.

STEPS 2 (putting the sandwich together):

6 sandwich rolls (such as Dutch Crunch)

Olive Tapenade from steps 1

12 slices Sopressata salami

12 slices Mortadela

6-12 slices roasted red bell pepper (depending on size)

6 slices Swiss cheese

6 slices Provolone cheese

6 slices jalapeño jack cheese

Butter or rendered bacon grease or olive oil for brushing on outside of bread (top and bottom)

  • Half/split bread lengthwise and spread some of the tapenade mixture evenly on both sides of the bread.
  • Begin layering: beginning and ending with cheese (your choice of cheese), and the middle layer with the roasted pepper and slice of cheese (cheese of choice), close the sandwich.
  • Generously Brush the top and bottom of each sandwich with butter, or rendered bacon grease or olive oil, or a combination thereof.
  • Place onto a pre-heated Panini grill (a George Foreman grill was used to grill these sandwiches), and cook according your grill’s instructions (with the George Foreman grill it took 4-6 minutes cooking time). You want the sandwich to cook to a nice golden color and the cheese should be melted, and when you tap on the bread it should yield a nice hollow thump.

Enjoy with a side of potato salad or green salad.

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Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!

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