Mardi Gras had officially started when I arrived in New Orleans earlier this month with my daughter. (Officially, the Mardi Grass/Carnival season starts right after 12th Night, which is January 6. Didn’t know that til now. Will have to celebrate more next year!) We had packed the car, left a day early to avoid the storm of the week and after driving across Lake Pontchartrain in dense fog, we turned into the French Quarter, found our hotel and started wandering around. Bourbon Street was not yet packed but the holiday season pump was being primed. The last time I saw that many people walking around with cocktails in-hand was several years ago at Summerfest.
You can’t go to NOLA without enjoying the food, so during our couple of days there we sampled some classic New Orleans cuisine. We had delicious still-hot beignets at Cafe Du Monde each day, and enjoyed Boudin Balls, a deep fried oyster Po’boy and even a “Jambalaya” dish made with pasta. One of our most memorable meals was lunch. My daughter had a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Po’Boy and I ordered a half Muffaletta Sandwich.
I don’t usually critique others’ food (really!). I just want food that I am served to be okay to good. The Po’Boy was good and the Muffaletta sandwich was OK–good except for the Olive Salad which was borderline. I just didn’t care for the large chunks of raw carrots, celery and oddly-chopped green olives tossed with a little vinegar and oil. Olive Salad can and should be so much more!
Years ago I taught a Kids Culinary Adventure Camp where we made Muffaletta sandwiches from scratch, including making and baking fresh bread and of course preparing awesome Olive Salad. This recipe makes delicious Olive Salad, especially if you are careful to chop (or grate or mince) your veggies well.** The best part of this recipe is that it keeps for months in the refrigerator. So you can make it now and it will be great for next Tuesday. Happy Mardi Gras!!
Muffaletta Olive Salad
1 cup green olives, pitted, finely-chopped
1 cup cured black olives, pitted, finely-chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 small onion, grated
½ cup minced celery
¼ cup minced red pepper
4 cloves garlic, pasted
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Method: Combine everything in a bowl. Mix well. Place in a glass jar or container and refrigerate. Use as desired.
**If you want help learning to chop, dice, and mince well, I have a Kids Knife Skills class coming up on March 30, and an Adult Knife Skills on Monday, April 4, 2022. Email me at Hemmachef@gmail.com to register or and with any questions.