A muffuletta sandwich is one of my favorite quick meals on a busy weeknight. This week, I’m taking the components of the sandwich and turning them into a hot pasta that can be on the table in about 20 minutes.
The key component in muffulettas is an olive salad that serves as the sauce in this version. The salad is a combination of Spanish olives, sliced black olives, capers, green onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano.
The meats in the sandwich include ham, salami and mortadella, but I’ve substituted diced ham and mini turkey pepperoni as the meats in the pasta. Cajun seasoning adds some kick to the pasta, and cubed provolone and freshly grated Parmesan cheese are stirred into the pasta just before serving. A tossed salad is all you need to complete your menu.
1 cup cubed or shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
8 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1½ cups cubed smoked ham
1½ cups cubed salami or mini pepperoni
For the Olive Salad:
1 6-ounce jar sliced Spanish olives with pimento, drained
1 4.25-ounce can sliced ripe (black) olives, drained
1 3-ounce jar capers, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Combine all olive-salad ingredients in a bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the penne and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook according to package directions. Remove 1 cup of the cooking water from the pot and then drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Cajun seasoning, ham and salami, and cook until the meats are lightly browned. Add the olive salad and cooked penne and cook until the pasta is heated through.
Add some of the reserved pasta water if you would like a thinner sauce. Transfer the ingredients to a serving plate and toss in the cubed provolone.
Taste and add salt, pepper and additional Cajun seasoning, if needed. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Makes 6-8 servings.