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Recipe for muffoletta olive salad

Olive salad

LOS ANGELES, California, USA Olive salad complements not only the authentic muffoletta sandwich but many Sicilian and Mediterranean dishes. 

Olive salad always includes olives (including green olives, black olives and the olive oil), celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, capers, parsley, pepperoncini, oregano, garlic, as well as the vinegar used to preserve the vegetables and other herbs and spices.

The appearance, taste and texture of different olive salads varies because of differences in the herbs and spices.

The following is an excellent recipe for olive salad.  The difference between this recipe and the recipe used to make authentic New Orleans muffoletta sandwiches relates only to the herbs and spices, which provide a complex taste foundation for the salad.

Quantity

The following recipe makes one quart of olive salad, which is sufficient for one 10" or two 7" muffoletta sandwiches.

The recipe may be increased proportionately.

Preparation time

The preparation time depends on three factors:  the time to prepare and age the pickled vegetables (olives, celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet pepper, cocktail onions, shallots, capers and pepperoncini);  the time to mix these vegetables and the herbs and spices;  and the time to allow the olive salad to age.

Selection of ingredients

When olive salad was first developed, refrigeration was non-existent or rare and fresh vegetables were unavailable for most of the year.  Without refrigeration of some means of preservation, olives and other vegetables will rot within days or weeks.

As a consequence, farmers developed several techniques for preserving vegetables.  In Sicily, each household preserved olives and other vegetables.  Olives were preserved with a water-brine cure, while vegetables were preserved with vinegar ("pickling").  To enhance the flavors, various local herbs and spices were added to the olives and vegetables. 

Olive salad was developed by Sicilian families who mixed their own cured olives with their own pickled vegetables.  Each family had its own recipe for cured olives, pickled vegetables, and the resulting olive salad.

Families with the time and interest will achieve an even better olive salad by themselves curing the olives and pickling the vegetables. 

Those who do not have the time to cure or pickle their own olives and vegetables will find that most supermarkets around the world carry cured olives and pickled vegetables.  However, mass-produced olives and vegetables rarely have the correct balance of herbs and spices.  Therefore, the following recipe directs that the olives and vegetables be rinsed off (to rinse away the herbs and spices) and that the correct balance of oils, vinegar, herbs and spices be added to the mixture, which will then be aged to meld the flavors.

Ingredients

The ingredients for this recipe for olive salad include the following (but see the directions on how these ingredients must be combined):

  • 2/3 Cup light vegetable oil
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1 TS red-wine vinegar
  • 4 TB green olives, stuffed with pimientos
  • 1 TB pimientos (from the green olives)
  • 1 TB Nicoise olives
  • 1 TB Kalamatas olives
  • 3 TB pickled celery
  • 3 TB pickled cauliflower flowerets
  • 3 TB pickled carrots
  • 1 TB pickled sweet pepper (red bell pepper)
  • 1 TB pickled cocktail onions
  • 1 TB pickled shallots
  • 1 TB pickled capers
  • 1 TB pickled pepperoncini
  • 1 TB dried parsley
  • 2 TS dried oregano
  • 1 TS salt
  • 1 TS black pepper (finely ground)

Equipment

This recipe requires only a minimum of equipment:

  • One-pint measuring bowl
  • One-quart glass or ceramic (non-reactive) mixing bowl
  • Colander
  • One-pint wide-mouth mason jar, with self-sealing like
  • Cutting board
  • Chef's (chopping) knife
  • Small wooden spoon

Directions

1.  Mix the vegetable oil, olive oil and vinegar in the measuring bowl, and set aside.

2.  Place the olives (but see the note) and vegetables in the mixing bowl.  Fill the bowl with clean, cold water, and rinse them under cold running water for 30 seconds.  Pour them into a colander to drain off the water, and leave them in the colander to dry at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Note:  If using cured olives, check the label.  If the olives are packed in oil, then do not rinse them in water.

3.  Remove and discard any seeds, and place the olives into the mason jar.  With a wooden spoon, crush the olives roughly, so that there are large chunks of olives and their oil.

4.  On a clean cutting board, coarsely chop the vegetables (not the olives) into chunks or slices of 1/4" or less.  Then add the vegetables to the mason jar.

5.  Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to the mason jar.

6.  Pour the oil-vinegar mixture into the mason jar until the olives and vegetables are covered, and then thoroughly mix the ingredients.  Make sure to mix it enough to remove any air pockets and bubbles.  Then pour more of the oil-vinegar mixture to reach the top of the mason jar.  Close and seal the jar.

7.  Refrigerate the sealed jar for at least one day (one week is better).

Note:  If some but not all of the olive salad is used, make sure that any remaining salad is covered by the oil-vinegar mixture and remains refrigerated.


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