If you’re heading to a potluck this Fourth of July or at any time this summer, break away from boring with my Muffuletta Pasta Salad. In this recipe, I’ve taken the full flavors of the iconic New Orleans muffuletta sandwich and tossed them with pasta. Those include spicy cured meats, marinated olives and lightly pickled vegetables (both of which are represented in the one and only muffuletta condiment, Italian Olive Salad), smooth provolone cheese and even toasted sesame seeds–which mimic the bite and earthiness of the round Sicilian loaf on which the sandwich is traditionally served. If you end up using a store-bought Italian Olive Salad, consider adding a small jar of marinated artichokes hearts for more texture. My homemade recipe includes them. You can also substitute various types of pasta. I prefer the tricolor rotini because it plays off the colors of the olive salad.
Happy July 4th!
Muffuletta Pasta Salad Recipe
1 16-ounce box tricolor rotini
1/2 cup chopped red onions
2 cups Italian Olive Salad
1/4 pound ham, cut into thin strips
1/4 pound Genoa salami, cut into thin strips
1/4 pound mortadella, cut into thin strips
1 cup grated provolone cheese
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted*
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Spread pasta out on a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak red onions in a bowl of cold water (a minimum of 10 minutes will mellow the bite); drain. In a large bowl, combine pasta, red onions, Italian Olive Salad, artichoke hearts, ham, salami, mortadella and provolone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta salad into serving bowls and sprinkle top with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 8 servings.
*To toast sesame seeds, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Cool and store in a covered jar at room temperature.