The muffuletta is a sandwich that was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is said to have been created around 1906 at Central Grocery. Sicilian farmers would come from the nearby Farmers Market to the grocery store for lunch. They would order salami, ham, cheese, olive salad and a round muffuletta loaf or braided Italian bread. These farmers would then take their meal out to a crate or barrel, sit down, and balance each item while ingesting them separately. The store owner suggested they cut open the bread and make a sandwich. Thus the muffuletta was born.
While traditionally consisting of olive salad, capicola, salami, pepperoni, ham, Swiss and provolone, the only version I’ve ever eaten was the vegan one served at End of the Line Cafe in Pensacola. With a loaf of leftover ciabatta from Plateroti’s sitting on my counter, I decided a muffuletta was in order. This ode to the original was piled high with homemade olive salad, roasted red peppers, portobello mushrooms, basil and tomato. J-Fur’s was also showered in shredded mozzarella while mine remained naked and unrecognizable to the Sicilian farmers in our area.
For the olive salad:
-6 ounces black olives, deseeded
-6 ounces pimiento stuffed olives
-14 ounces Artichoke Hearts, liquid reserved
-1/2 an onion
-3 stalks of celery
-1 clove garlic
-1/4 cup Italian Dressing
-black pepper (to taste)
For the sandwich:
-8 slices of Ciabatta bread
-1 jar roasted red peppers (or 1 homemade roasted red pepper)
-2 portobello caps
-4 Tbs. olive salad
-mozzarella or daiya (optional)
1. To make the olive salad. Place all items in a food processor. Process until uniform. Chill in the refrigerator (covered) for 12-24 hours.Note that the recipe above gives you way more than you will need for the sandwiches. Reduce the measurements if you don’t want all the leftovers.
2. Dump the roasted red peppers and their liquid into a big metal bowl. Place the portobello caps in the liquid too and smear all over. Fire up the grill and heat the roasted red peppers and portobello caps until warm and covered in grill marks.
3. On a slice of bread, spread the olive salad. Layer on part of the roasted red pepper, half of the mushroom cap, a slice of tomato, basil leaves, mozzarella (if using) and the other slice of bread. Toast in a pan until the bread is golden. Flip and repeat on the other side. Continue doing this until all ingredients are gone (except for the olive salad). Eat with sweet potato fries while sitting on top of a barrel.
Aside from baseball (it is the fantasy playoffs and Kris Medlen was dealing) my Labor Day music of choice hailed from a Boston (and random places in Connecticut) band Twin Berlin. Their new EP, There Goes My Virtue, is a three song stinger full of gritty unapologetic maniacal underground rock that was produced under the watchful eye (and steady hand) of Travis Barker of Blink 182 fame. The EP is only a quick glimpse, a window offering, of what Twin Berlin can do as it clocks in at just over seven minutes (which is way too short and the reason that I had to listen to it three times). It does not pander or pussyfoot or give you unnecessary guitar solos and samples. You won’t find the band experimenting with long intros and sentimental outros. Each sound on the EP is there for a reason and serves only one purpose: to grab you, hold you and make you beg for more. And more is what I hope to get…sooner rather than later. Twin Berlin serves the best first on There Goes My Virtue as opener “Can’t Take, Take, Take” is the clear cut party track, the one that won’t leave you anytime soon.
A video featuring “Can’t Take, Take, Take”: