Just the word Muffaletta makes my mouth water... that combination of good crusty Italian bread, olives and garlic and herbs and cheese and capicola and ham and and ..... ohhhhhh ecstasy! I love it, love it all, crave it, want it right now. But as I strive for healthier living, I needed to find a way to have all those amazing flavors and still be kinda healthy... sort of. Maybe. I could be fooling myself here, but go with it, don't harsh my buzz.
Pasta salad. Why not? Just substitute the deliciously fatty Italian meats, for pasta. Sacrilege you say!? Try it first!
I first took a red bell pepper and roasted it off. You can do this on a grill, in a broiler, on a stove top, in a freakin toaster oven if you want. Just do it. Don't buy it. It's cheaper and tastes better when it's done fresh. After that's done, give them a chop and toss them in your big bowl that will hold all your ingredients. Now come the olives. I only used one kind and Muffaletta generally has several, but when you're talking Kalamata, why mess with a good thing. I would bathe in Kalamata's if I could. Wow, a Kalamata olive bath. That's something to aspire to. Anyway, yeah... as I shake myself out of my reverie, add a big amount...a cup? two cups? Use your judgment, of Kalamata olives, chopped.
From there, I added the fresh mozzarella. Now I suppose if you must, you can add a lesser motz, but why would you want to? Soft, creamy, yummy fresh mozzarella! Don't be an idiot. Fresh is best, make this your mantra.
Cut in cubes, and add to the olives and peppers. And then, ahhhh a bounty from my garden. Chives, basil, Italian parsley, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes!
What you see here are a couple San Marzano's, a couple Green Zebra (did you honestly expect me not to have zebra tomatoes?) and 16 Black Cherry's. I only used the Black Cherry's (and the herbs) for the salad. The rest will be used in something else or just eaten with some extra virgin olive oil and that crusty Italian bread I mentioned earlier.
So, 16 Black Cherry's.... true, I'm sure most of you don't have a giant 6 foot tall Black Cherry tomato plant in your yard, but if you do, use them! If not, another fresh tomato would be fine, or as a last resort, grape or cherry tomatoes from the grocery. And then pile on the herbs. Don't be shy, add them to where you may even think it's too much. It won't be, trust me.
A pound of whatever pasta you like is needed here. You can use anything. Don't feel confined to using tri-color rotini or whatever most pasta salads are made from. I did use a tri-color farfalle because I had it on hand, but you can use anything ... penne, cavatappi, orzo, whatever. And now the dressing. I use my standard 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and that's it. There is so much good stuff in this salad, but it's also big so you may need more dressing. Probably not a full double recipe but more. Season as you go of course, but there is no need to be aggressive with the salt, the olives add a lot.
Enjoy the hell out of it... make it often! Buon Cibo mia Amici