Along with red beans and rice, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, muffulettas are among New Orleans' most famous dishes. Who knew that Sicilian and Creole fusion would result in one of America's favorite sandwiches? Muffulettas feature a smorgasbord of Italian meats, cheeses, and a spicy olive tapenade stuffed into a round, soft loaf of the sandwich's namesake bread. Muffuletta bread is hard to find outside of New Orleans or Italian bakeries, and many recipes suggest other kinds of soft round bread or buns as worthy substitutes. Award-winning actress and Food Network star Valerie Bertinelli created a unique take on muffulettas that ignores the closed sandwich aspect altogether, opting instead to convert the sandwich into a classic Italian appetizer: bruschetta.
Considering that the muffuletta is essentially the components of an Italian charcuterie board in sandwich form, transforming it into bruschetta is a logical and ingenious idea. Instead of soft, fluffy bread, Bertinelli's muffuletta bruschettas use sturdy baguettes to withstand the weight of various meats and cheeses. Furthermore, you don't have to commit to a massive sandwich; you can still enjoy all the classic ingredients in a compact, open-faced sandwich bite.
Muffuletta bruschettas offer an elegant, beautifully presented appetizer tray to serve at your next Italian or New Orleans-themed dinner party. They're as straightforward to assemble as the sandwich, requiring the same list of ready-made deli meats and cheeses, and jarred giardiniera. Plus, baguettes are much easier to come by than muffuletta bread.
Making Muffuletta Bruschetta
Even though you're making enough for a crowd, assembling muffuletta bruschetta requires less steps and time than the classic sandwich; muffuletta sandwich recipes often have you undergo two different waiting periods to maximize flavor and toasting the sandwich to melt the cheese. The bruschetta version doesn't require you to toast the bread, and since you're making it for lots of people, storing a tray in the fridge for a few hours isn't a waiting game, but an opportunity to focus on other party preparations. If you want a crispy toasted bread, you could use pre-made crostini instead of fresh baguette.
You can make your own spicy Creole olive tapenade to customize the types of pickled vegetables mixed in with the Kalamata and green olives. If you want to save even more time, purchase pre-made olive tapenade from the deli where you buy your Italian cold cuts and cheeses.
After you've sliced the baguette, place the pieces on a serving tray or sheet pan and spread each slice with olive tapenade. Bertinelli recommends layering ingredients from thick to thin. You'll start with a thicker slice of mozzarella, then the thinner slices of provolone and deli meats. For presentation and added flavor, top each bruschetta with a small spoonful of tapenade and a fresh basil leaf. Or, instead of fresh basil, a banana pepper ring or sliver of roasted red pepper would also add a pop of flavor and color.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.