I really meant to take a genuine New Orleans muffaletta to the potluck the other night, but, well, stuff happened, and I ran out of time to make the olive salad. Muffalettas and olive salad are a story in themselves, one that I may get around to one day. This time, however, I ended up just making a great big ham, cheese, and salami sandwich out of a round loaf split horizontally. It was fine, people ate most of it — and the next day I had a whole jar of olives to play with.
They were, fittingly enough, salad olives — green, pitted, and stuffed with tiny bits of red pepper. Not olives at their best; to me they’re a guilty pleasure, but then I like almost anything with too much salt. Anyway, I had planned to grind them up with a lot of fresh, strongly flavored ingredients that would make them seem like more than they were. Now I had to find some other way to bring them out of a 1950s cocktail party and into an appetizing dish.
I also had a little cheese left over from making the sandwich — Monterey Jack, simply because it’s a mild cheese I’d been able to find in a very small quantity. I also had the usual salad ingredients I keep around in summer. Here’s what I came up with:
- 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
- 2 tablespoons stuffed green salad olives, rinsed and dried
- 1 small tomato
- Lettuce — as much as you like
- Chop tomato and combine gently with cheese and olives. Spoon on top of lettuce leaves and add your choice of vinaigrette dressing.
- You could substitute those little wrapped cubes of cheese, chopped in half, though they’d be a pain to unwrap.
- You could also use cherry or grape tomatoes.
- On the lettuce — I used three small leaves and ate this as a single serving for lunch, but it was really a little too rich for that.
- With more lettuce, you could get three or four servings out of this, making it a good side salad for a dinner with a lightish main dish.
- There’ll always be another potluck, and maybe next time I should try bringing this salad . . . Maybe it’ll replace muffalettas as my go-to potluck dish, though I know I’ll never give them up completely.
- Anyway, inventing Monterey Olive Salad makes me glad, for once, that I ran out of time.