Today I’d like to point out some distinct patterns I’ve observed in men and women eating habits. As a woman, I have a strong lust for bread products – sourdough, brioche, lavash, focaccia, cinnamon raisin, baguette, rye, tortilla, soda, pita, challah, bao, sweet batard, bagels, pumpernickel, the list is endless. Just racking my brain for all the different bread types makes my mouth water (oooh Acme, how you’ve spoiled me!). I’ve noticed that my diet is 75% composed of bread/grain/pasta products, which is pretty significant considering all the foods out there. I like a bit of bread (toast, English muffin, bagel, etc) to fill me each morning, and then more bread (typically in sandwich or wrap form) to keep me going through the afternoon. And for dinner, particularly when I’m too lazy, bread is again the easiest and most filling food there is. And all the different things you can do to bread! Delicious. I find that this is true for most women – we love our breads. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem to appreciate it as much – men want things that are battered and fried, meaty and full of protein, dripping in hearty juices and heavy with melted cheese. Not to say women don’t appreciate these same things – it’s just that, we love our breads much more than men do.
Then enters the Muffaletta Manwich that blurs the division between men and women eating habits. The Muffaletta is an Italian sandwich with roots in New Orleans’ French Quarters, and has been described as the world’s greatest sandwich. At a whopping 5 1/4 inches in height at its pinnacle, this manwich is layer after layer of delicious ham, mortadella (kinda like bologna, but better), genoa salami, lots of provolone and mozzerella, and a beautifully savory-tangy salad of olives, artichoke hearts, and roasted bell peppers, squished between a beautifully crusty round loaf with tender insides and crunchy exterior. There is great contrast in flavor and color and texture in each bite, that it keeps the sandwich interesting and never boring. It doesn’t overwhelm or jade the palette, but consistently piques one’s appetite, making you yearn for mooore. This manwich really brings the sexes together. Why make just another boring BLT or turkey on wheat or PBJ, when you could have a Muffaletta Manwich?
Feel free to play with the different types of olives and veggies in the olive salad. Berkeley Bowl ($8.99/lb), and some Safeways ($7.99/lb), have Olive Bars, where you can mix and match to your heart’s content all the olive, artichoke, and antipasto you want. So have fun and go currazy.
2 loaves 9″ sourdough rounds, sliced horizontally*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2-1 tbs sugar
1 cup black olives, juices drained
1 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, juices drained
1/2 cup spicy jalapeno green olives, juices drained
1/2 cup capers in brine, drained
3/4 cup roasted artichoke hearts, juices drained
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, juices drained
1 tbs red pepper flakes
crack of pepper
1 shallot, minced
1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, minced
1 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, sliced into rings
2-3 roma tomatoes**
1 lb smoked ham
1 lb genoa salami
1/2 lb mortadella***
3/4 lbs provolone cheese, sliced
1/2 lb whole-milk mozzerella cheese, sliced
*Traditionally an actually muffaletta bread, but hard to find outside of New Orleans
**Traditional muffalettas don’t have additional tomatoes or onion slices, but I thought the flavors would be nice with the briny olives
***Can be found at your local Safeway by the deli counter
In a food processor, chop olives, capers, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, shallots and 1/2 sweet onion, sugar, red pepper flakes, pepper, and olive oil until all mixed and consistent in size but do not pureed. The key is to still keep some texture in the olive salad. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld.
From each half of the sourdough loaf, remove the tender inside to create a cavity.
To assemble the sandwich, spoon the olive salad mixture (with minimal liquid) into the cavity of each half-loaf. Alternatingly layer with salami, ham, mortadella, sliced cheese, sliced tomatoes and sweet onion. Place tops back on each sandwich and using a large serrated knife, cut loaves into quarter servings. Enjoy.
If I ever open a sandwich shop, this will for sure be on the Special Menu. Chalk full with salted deli meats and cheeses; sweet onions and juicy tomatoes to contrast the briny olive salad; crunchy, flaky bread. Absolutely to die for – I bought about $35 worth of ingredients for this sandwich, but ended up with about 8 hefty servings. My parents brought half a loaf to work, and grizzly ate a quarter during his break, and my baby sister finished it off before school. That left me with another whole sandwich to myself… yuuum. This beats eating out at a mediocre deli for the same price… definitely kicks the ass of any $5 Foot-long. So if you want to make your co-workers and lunch mates jealous, do yourself a favor and make it – it won’t disappoint, I guarantee it! (Yes, I am channeling the Men’s Warehouse guy).