This Muffuletta Panini has all the elements of the classic New Orleans sandwich, pressed into a cheesy panini and grilled until crisp.
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you probably have an idea of why a total cold-weather creature like me would consider braving the sweltering heat and living there for a year, just to eat the food.
When Pete and I visited NOLA a couple years ago, we spent the week going from one place to the next, eating, then walking, eating, then walking…I came away so inspired, and there are a handful of recipes on my blog that are recreations of dishes I ate on my trip.
One of my favorite foods from New Orleans is the famed Muffuletta Sandwich.
What is Muffuletta? It’s an Italian sandwich filled with an olive salad, Italian meats, and cheese, and it’s generally regarded as one of the best picnic sandwiches around.
This is true, but what if you take all the elements of the Muffuletta and press it into a gooey, cheesy, golden, crispy panini?
It’s even better, if you ask me.
Any situation where you take things into the “golden brown and crispy” territory is always a good idea in my book, and this is basically like a cross between a grilled cheese and the muffuletta.
Let me show you how to make it!
How to Make Muffuletta Panini:
First we’re going to make the olive salad.
The olive bar at my grocery store actually has a fresh muffuletta mix that you can buy, so if it’s available to you, feel free to use that as a shortcut if you prefer.
I’ll show you how to make my abbreviated homemade version.
Everyone’s muffuletta mix is a little bit different, but here I like to use green olives, kalamata olives, roasted red pepper, celery ribs and leaves, parsley, capers, and garlic as the main fresh components.
Chop all the ingredients into small pieces, and place into a bowl.
Mix all the olive salad ingredients with a splash of vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper, then mix well.
Try to let it sit for two hours, so the flavors can meld together.
When you’re ready to make the panini, lay out all the meat and cheese.
For the meats, I’m using mortadella, ham, and genoa salami. And for the cheese, I’m using a 4-cheese Italian blend.
Heat up a sandwich press, then spread the outsides of two slices of Italian bread with softened butter.
Flip the bread over and add a couple spoonfuls of the olive salad.
Then cover the olive salad with cheese.
Next layer on the mortadella, ham, and genoa salami.
Put the sandwich together and get it on a hot panini press.
Press the lid down and let the sandwich compact and crisp up.
Once the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp, take the panini off the press and move to a cutting board.
Cut it in half and it’s ready to enjoy!
I also love this Italian Club Sandwich. Enjoy!
For the olive salad:
- 1 cup chopped pitted pimiento stuffed green olives
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper
For the panini:
- 8 slices Italian bread
- 4 tablespoons softened butter
- 16 3/4 ounce slices Italian Blend cheese
- 1/3 lb sliced mortadella
- 1/3 lb sliced genoa salami
- 1/3 lb sliced deli ham
- To make the olive salad, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. If possible, let the mixture sit for at least 2 hours so the flavors can meld together.
- To make the panini, preheat a panini press on medium high heat.
- Spread the outer edges of the Italian sandwich bread with the softened butter, then spread a spoonful of the olive salad on the inside of each piece of bread. Place two slices of cheese on top of the olive salad on each piece of bread. Then layer on a couple slices of mortadella, genoa salami, and deli ham. Close the sandwich and place on the panini press.
- Press the lid of the panini maker down firmly, and cook the sandwich for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve and enjoy!
Post updated in March 2019. Originally published July 2016.