Jon is a commercial and documentary photographer, Creative Director at The Beans and Rice, and advocate for environmental responsibility. Aubrey Janelle is a lifestyle photographer living in Portland, Oregon, with a passion for journalism and creating narratives. Jon and Aubrey toured the Gulf Coast in a 2017 Thor Motor Coach A.C.E. Class A.
Jonathan Moore and Aubrey Janelle
A Taste of Wild - Gulf Coast
Jon and Aubrey head south to the Gulf Coast to discover the hot, humid bayou country, explore the deep and diverse flavors of Cajun and Creole cooking and share their favorite eats along the way.
Philadelphia has cheesesteaks, Miami has Cubanos, and New Orleans has Muffaletta.
We’re at an RV park somewhere on the edge of Louisiana, and I’m dreaming of ham, salami, and mortadella dressed with olive tapenade on fresh Italian bread.
Jon’s lost in a book, so I go off to explore without him. I come to an old wooden swing that sits right on the water. I can feel the ocean breeze on my face, and I decide that this will be the perfect spot to enjoy my lunch.
Like revenge,* Muffaletta is a dish best served cold. With strong, pungent flavors marrying salty Italian cured meats, tangy olives, creamy cheese and a sharp pepperoncini bite, the Muffaletta is not a sandwich for the faint of heart. It’s the kind of meal that gives more than it takes, filling you with a sweet-salty-savory-sour-umami punch that practically infuses your blood with increased vigor and zest.
Start with a good, fresh bread with a soft crumb. In New Orleans, you can find Muffaletta bread, made for the express purpose of assembling this sandwich, but elsewhere, you can make do with a fluffy sourdough or a crisp Italian loaf. You want something spongy, not too dense, to soak up the juices from the tapenade and vinegar.
Next, source some high quality Italian meats. The Muffaletta sandwich was invented by Sicilian ingredients in New Orleans, so invoke the spirit of an aging Italian grandma and get picky about your meats. We recommend going to a deli counter and asking for sample tastes of the meat you’d like to buy; if you find a specialty Italian deli to shop, double gold stars to you.
The cheese, of course, is just as important. There’s no greater joy than tasting samples of really good cheese at a deli counter. Just be careful––if you get carried away, you may find yourself buying more than you bargained for.
The olives, capers and pepperoncini are easy to get right, as you can find most of these items in a jar or a can, preserved at peak freshness in a briny solution that holds its own magic. They’re easy to stock up on and keep in a pantry or the door of a fridge, as they’ll keep for a good long time.
When it comes down to the vinegar and oil, of course, we want to tell you to buy something a little nicer than you might normally. Because you’re not using them to cook with, more expensive options get the chance to really shine here. But then again, with the competing, strong flavors of all its other components, the Muffaletta will be just fine if you decide to use the oil and vinegar you already have on hand.
Either way, you’re in for a delicious, filling meal, chock full of all the best Italian flavors and paying homage to the diverse immigrants who settled Louisiana.
*Or so we’ve heard.
Jonathan Moore and Aubrey Janelle
Yield: 4 servingsPrep: 15 minutes Cooking: 30 minutes
- ¼ pound Genoa salami
- ½ pound deli ham
- 4 slices mortadella
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- Italian bread
- ¼ cup capers
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ½ cup green olives
- ½ cup pepperoncini
- ¼ cup onion
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- To make tapenade, mince the kalamata olives, green olives and onions. Place them in a small bowl.
- Slice the pepperoncinis thinly and add them to the bowl along with the capers and fennel seed.
- Heat 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and pour over the olive mixture. Season with dried oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix to combine and set aside.
- To assemble the sandwich, drizzle a small amount of olive oil on both pieces of bread, arrange the deli meat and cheese slices and top with tapenade. Then close the sandwich and dig in!