Pressed Muffuletta Sandwich for a Crowd
This Pressed Muffuletta Sandwich is the perfect lunch to bring to any picnic or day at the beach. Easy to put together, made to travel, and full of flavor, you'll love this elevated take on your typical Italian deli sandwich.
Servings 5 large portions (or 10 smaller snack portions)
- 1 large loaf of fresh ciabatta bread (or traditional muffuletta bread, if you can find it!)
- ¼ lb mozzarella cheese
- ¼ lb provolone cheese
- ½ lb Virginia ham
- 4 oz salami
- 3 oz hot soppressata
- 4 oz prosciutto
- 1 cup homemade olive salad spread (plus more as desired)
Homemade Olive Salad Spread (Makes about 2 cups)
- 2 cups marinated olives, pitted (I like to use a mix of green and Kalamata)
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- ½ cup red roasted peppers
- ½ cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ - ½ cup olive oil, as needed
Making the Olive Salad Spread
The key to a good olive salad spread is to make sure the olives, artichokes, and red pepper are diced, but not pureed in the finished product. There are two ways to achieve this:
For a more refined olive salad spread, finely dice the olives, artichokes, roasted red pepper, celery and parsley by hand and combine with the other ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Start by adding a fourth cup of olive oil, and add more if the mixture seems dry. Let the olive salad spread sit for at least 2 hours to overnight in a sealed container in the fridge so that the flavors mingle.
If you wish to save time or don't feel like practicing your knife work, you can make a more rustic (i.e. less pretty) spread using a blender or food processor on pulse mode. For this method, roughly chop the artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper into one-inch size pieces. Dice the celery into quarter-inch pieces. Put the whole, pitted olives into the blender and pulse once or twice to chop them up a bit. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil, and pulse in very short intervals until everything is chunky, but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the fourth cup olive oil. Add more if the mixture seems too dry. If there are some larger pieces of olive or artichoke still in the mix, you can throw them back into the blender for another pulse, or chop them up by hand and add them back into the mix. Let sit two hours to overnight in the fridge as above before using on your sandwiches.
Assembling the Sandwich
With a large bread knife, carefully slice your loaf of bread horizontally, separating the top from the bottom. Smear the homemade olive salad spread on the inside of each half in a thin layer so that everything is covered, leaving about half an inch clear at the edges of the bread. I recommend using a slotting spoon or otherwise trying to leave as much of the liquid behind as possible in order to keep the bread from becoming too soggy.
Layer your cold cuts on the “bottom” half of the loaf. This is the order I used, but feel free improvise: mozzarella, salami, ham, soppressata, prosciutto, provolone. You can also substitute your preferred Italian deli meats to your preference, but I recommend at least keeping two types of cheese, a variety of ham, and at least one hard cured meat like the salami or soppressata for a variety of flavor and texture. You’ll want around two and a half pounds of deli meats and a half pound of cheese to make well-layered sandwich.
Wrap the whole assembled loaf tightly in plastic wrap, being careful not to let the olive spread to gush out too much (some is bound is to happen). Refrigerate overnight, pressed between two boards. I usually clear out a space in my fridge, then set a cutting board or baking sheet on top and put all the items I removed to make room balanced on top of the sandwich to act as weights to press it down.
Preparing for Travel
When ready to pack up your cooler, remove the pressed loaf from the fridge and carefully unwrap it. At this point you can either make full or half sandwich portions. I use full sandwich portions when I’m providing a main meal to a group, and half sandwich portions in a potluck situation since even one is a pretty hearty snack. For full sandwiches, slice the loaf lengthwise four times, making five sandwich wedges, each about two inches wide. For half sandwiches, cut each of these in half. Be careful not to let your sandwiches fall apart as you cut! Wrap each sandwich tightly first in a layer of plastic wrap, and then in a layer of either foil or parchment paper to your preference. Stack in your cooler and you’re all set for a day out.
Doubling the Recipe: One loaf can make a sizable number of portions, but if you’re providing the main meal to a large group at a beach picnic, I often find it's good to make two loaves. The extra portions always get eaten by someone! Double the sandwich ingredients, but not the Olive Salad Spread – you should have plenty of that to divide between two loaves.