Social Saturday: Bonnie's Muffaletta

Bonnie (left) and her daughter, enjoying their muffaletta

Bonnie (left) and her daughter, enjoying their muffaletta

While I was in SF on my eating marathon, I received an email from Bonnie Penders, the wonderful mother of my friend Katie.  I was in SF and the Penders’ clan was in Galveston, TX enjoying some family fun in the sun.  Bonnie emailed me for some help.  She had eaten a delicious sandwich and wants to recreate it at home, so she called upon me to figure it out.  Based on what Katie told me about her mother, she is an A+ nonna.  She loves to cook and teach her EIGHT grandchildren about good food.  She is a master gardener that donates herbs from her garden to a local homeless shelter.  Bonnie knows the benefit of a fresh meal and shares with those less fortunate.  Martha Stewart could learn a thing or two from Mrs. Penders!

Therefore, this email made me all sorts of happy.  It was exciting to be called upon to figure out a delicious recipe for a friend.  If you have a cold; call the doctor.  If you eat a great sandwich, call me!  Your food advisor, Heirloom Kitchen, to the rescue! Needless to say, I was quite honored to be given this task.

Coming up with this recipe was so much fun.  I did a little digging, a lot of research and came up with what I think is the perfect replicate of Maceo Spice & Import Co’s famous Muffaletta sandwich.  If you are in Galveston, look for the big white building with palm trees on the door!

If you simply Google Muffaletta, you get a ton of information.  Originated in New Orleans by Sicilian immigrants, loads of meat, big round bread and of course, the olive salad.  Olive salad? Yes, olive salad.  As strange as it sounds, this is what makesa muffaletta so different from your every day Italian combo sandwich.  It’s a briny, olive chopped salad that is slathered on the bread before you add the meat and cheese.  If you get it right, you’re guaranteed muffaletta success.

Bonnie's daughters & granddaughter  outside of Maceo's

Bonnie's daughters & granddaughter  outside of Maceo's

So, if Bonnie loved the one at Maceo’s, that’s the olive salad I had to crack.  Now they sell their jarred olive salad in the store and say it’s top secret.  However, the ingredients are listed on the jar and a (very clear) picture of the jar is on the website, soooo, score!  Then, a quick call to the shop and the cashier told me they only use Manzanilla olives in the salad.  In addition, I figured the spices are probably a combination of dried oregano and basil because the Maceo family is Italian and, most other recipes I read had those two ingredients.

Also, based on Bonnie’s pictures and the store’s online menu, I saw that they keep their muffaletta very simple.  Instead of loads of meats like you find in New Orleans, they simply use ham, salami and provolone.  And they assert NO SUBSTITUTIONS. So, here is my very researched riff on Galveston’s historic Maceo’s Muffalata.  Bonnie, I hope I did you proud!

Bonnie’s Muffaletta


Prep time:        Total time: 

One large Italian round boule
¼ to ½ cup olive salad (your choice!)
½ lb sliced boiled ham
½ lb sliced genoa salami
¼ lb sliced provolone
10oz jar manzanilla olives
5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon capers

  1. In a small food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse into a chunky paste.  Remember, it’s a salad.  If you go to long, you end up with pate!
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  3. Cut the large, round loaf along the equator and scoop out the pulp.  Spread the olive salad on both sides of the bread and begin layering the ham and then salami on top of the bottom slice of bread.  Layer the provolone all along the top of the meat and add bread.
  4. Place the sandwich on a baking sheet and top with parchment paper.  Place a cast iron skillet on top and let the sandwich sit for 10 minutes.  The heavy skillet will allow all those ingredients to marry.  Then, place it inside the skillet and put in the oven for 20 minutes.  Just long enough to melt the provolone. (You can use a baking sheet if you don’t have a skillet.  Just get some heavy cans to weigh the sandwich down)
  5. Remove from the oven and slice into four to six slices, depending on how muffaletta crazy you are!  Serve with some potato chips or a vinegar pepper like Maceo’s does.
Muffaletta, step by step.

Muffaletta, step by step.