Thursday, July 1, 2010


With the 4th of July weekend coming up, it is almost a sure bet that there is a sandwich, burger or hot dog in your future. These three olive spreads add zest and zing to the usual everyday humdrum bread and meat combination.

Double click on picture for closer look.
A neighbor's tribute to the Gulf.  The cross is labeled the Gulf; a reminder to tourist and residence to pray those effected by the oil spill.  As a beach town, our hearts go out to all the beach towns along the coast.   

Muffaletta olive spread is a product of Central Grocery Store in New Orleans. Olive salad was added to a basically a ham and cheese sandwich on a large round Italian bread and sold as a working man’s lunch. Most Muffaletta salads are made with Giardiniera, Italian pickled vegetables. The olive salad that I enjoy is made with fresh vegetables so it is less briny and is crispier. I fashioned this recipe after one I enjoy from Joe Caputo and Sons Fruit Market deli in the Chicago area. Muffaletta keeps well in the refrigerator. It makes a sub sandwich into a gourmet’s delight. I love it with hot dogs. It can also be used on a burger or in salads. Call it Tapenada and serve it with crackers or bruschetta for an appetizer. Put some in a pasta salad or a hot pasta dish for an added kick or just eat it with a spoon as I like to do. It has to be made a day ahead of serving and just seems to get better as it sits in the refrigerator.

The amounts are approximations and you can use more or less of an ingredient if you wish. The important part is the green olives with pimentos.

14 to 16 oz. green olives with pimento, drained and chopped
1 (6oz) can black olives or Kalamata olives, drained, pitted, and chopped
1 (4oz) jar diced pimentos, drained
2 T capers, drained and rinsed
2 T celery, chopped
¾ c carrot, chopped
½ c cauliflower, chopped
½ to ¾ c red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ t dried oregano or 1 t dried oregano and 1 t fresh marjoram, chopped
¼ c fresh parsley, chopped
½ t fresh rosemary, chopped
¾ t fresh ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T white wine vinegar
¾ c olive oil


Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and stir to mix well. Let set, covered, overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Drain olives.

Chop olives.  A food processor works well but you could chop them by hand if desired.

Put chopped olives in large bowl.

Add drained and chopped black olives and pimentos.

Rough chop carrots.  I do not clean the skin off the carrots as my Mom always said that is where the vitamins are.

Process carrots in food processor.

Rough chop the celery and process in food processor.

Process cauliflower in food processor.  We're on a roll with a the food processor.

Remove stem from little sweet bell peppers and process in the food processor.

Mince garlic.

Chop herbs.

Drain and rinse capers.  Add to olive mixture.

Add olive oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar to olive mix.

Use Muffaletta salad in a sandwich.

Serve with crackers or bruschetta for an appetizer.

Cook some tortellini, add olive mix and Parmesan cheese.

Serve warm--there were dueling forks over this as Tom and I fought for the last bites--very delicious.  Muffaletta olive mix is also good in cold pasta salads.

Buy unsliced hot dogs buns.  DO NOT SLICE THROUGH THE SIDE.

Make the slice down through the top like they do in the Northeast for Lobster Rolls.

Add a hot, hot dog and Muffaletta salad mix for an out of this world hot dog.

Olive burgers take me back to my college years at Michigan State. There was a drive-in restaurant that the best olive burgers. Basically just mayonnaise or salad dressing and green olives, it makes a superb burger with Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. I like to add it to just about any sandwich to take it out of the ordinary and into extraordinary.

The ingredients for MSU-Go Green Olive Spread.  Drain olives and put into a small bowl.  Add to mayonnaise or salad dressing.  I add olives until I think I have enough and then I add some more to the mayonnaise.

Double click on picture to see how fine I sometimes chop the olives. I put lettuce and tomatoes on my olive burgers as well as Swiss cheese but Tom wanted his without the lettuce and tomato. 

Sometimes I just put the salad olives, without chopping, into the mayonnaise.  A steak sandwich served with MSU-Go Green Olive Spread.

On April 1st, Michigan Cottage Cook featured Italian Sub Michigan-style with a black olive spread. It is so good and so easy it is worth repeating in case you missed it the first time. Go to the April 1st post to see the pictures. The sub sandwich from that post is also delicious if you are looking for a holiday treat.

I first had this spread in 1966 on a sub sandwich purchased from a little, tiny sandwich shop located right by the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the Upper Peninsula. The locks are where the huge lake freighters are lifted or lowered because of the difference in the lake levels between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. I don’t particularly like black olives, but the olive pieces become like little sponges of Italian dressing. Wow, I have been making this for 44 years.

Finely chopped black ripe olives
Italian salad dressing

Mix dressing with olives and let marinate. Use as a spread on sandwiches. Keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator.

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