The Briny Dressing That Helps Make The Muffuletta Sandwich Unique

Po'boys aren't the only famous sandwich to call New Orleans home. Perhaps not as well-known, the dynamic muffuletta is a signature offering of the Big Easy that traditionally contains ham and salami stacked with provolone cheese on Italian bread with sesame seeds. But what truly sets the muffuletta apart from all other sandwiches is its dressing made from olives, onions, and spices.

While New Orleans may be home to the French Quarter and much of its foods have been influenced by the city's early French settlers, the muffuletta reflects the city's Sicilian residents who began to immigrate to the city in the 1800s. It was one of these immigrants, Salvadore Lupo, who operated the Central Grocery in the French Quarter at the start of the 20th Century and is credited with creating the muffuletta.

While the cured meats were classic sandwich components for the Sicilians of the city, Salvadore created the signature olive salad that makes the muffuletta so distinctive.

Olive salad contains complex flavors

Muffuletta dressing, which is slathered liberally on both slices of bread, is responsible for the complex flavors of the sandwich. To make the condiment — also commonly referred to as an olive salad — you'll need pimento-stuffed green olives, capers, and olive oil. You'll also need a jar of giardiniera or the individual ingredients it contains, including pickled cauliflower, pepperoncini, and pickled onions.

Depending on the recipe, you can incorporate other varieties of olives like picholine, cerignola olives, or kalamata. Additional flavor for the olive dressing comes from herbs, including oregano, thyme, and parsley, as well as garlic and olive oil. The finished salty dressing helps to offset the richness of the meat and cheese for a sandwich where every bite is packed with flavor. 

Should you find yourself with leftover olive salad, it can be kept in the refrigerator for the next sandwich — it doesn't have to be a muffuletta — or spread on crackers for a snack.