Missing Jazz Fest; But at Least We’ve Got Muffuletta Pasta Salad

April 24, 2020

Missing Jazz Fest; But at Least We’ve Got Muffuletta Pasta Salad


It’s Jazz Fest time, friends! You might have seen the post earlier this week about the live stream taking place since we can’t congregate right now.

It was a work day for me yesterday, but I followed the Festing in Place suggestions and wore my happy Jazz Fest shirt, listening to the live stream during down time (while working at home), and after work. Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder did You are the Sunshine of My Life – wowza!!!!

Thank you so much, WWOZ!!! What wonderful music you are providing this weekend and next in the Festing in Place celebration. Check out the lineup in the “cubes” below, my friends.

Eating Jazz Fest-Inspired Meals

In addition to being eager listeners, we’re eating like we’re at Jazz Fest, too! In honor of the event, and to soothe our lonesome-for-NOLA feelings, I made a Muffuletta Pasta Salad.

Doesn’t it look festive?

I got the inspiration for the salad from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking Up a Storm.

The recipe was for Muffuletta Pasta, a hot dish. Not really what we wanted on a super-humid Southeast Texas day, though. But hmmmmm… what about a salad with all of the muffuletta ingredients??? Challenge accepted!

I set about to create a recipe and then a grocery list, checking out some muffuletta recipes and deciding on what should go in our salad. During these coronavirus times, however, my grocery store didn’t have the exact ingredients I wanted. I couldn’t get thick slabs of mortadella or provolone to cube, because the deli isn’t open right now, so I got the sliced version of each. I didn’t have cocktail onions for the olive salad, so I pickled some red onions. Don’t worry, folks, I didn’t make a special grocery store trip just for this dish, I combined it with the one weekly outing we take to stock up on fresh foodstuffs. We are ALL ABOUT respecting COVID-19 precautions here at Glover Gardens.

I’m sharing this recipe with you, because of course, that’s what one does…but it’s a “bit of this / bit of that” recipe. Can you hang with the inexactness of it? I think you can, ’cause it’s a NOLA Big Easy kind of feeling.

Olive Salad is the Key!

First, there’s the olive salad. You can buy it, or make it, but it’s not negotiable – you MUST have olive salad for this recipe. If you’ve got time to plan ahead, you can buy it from Central Grocery and Deli, “home of the original muffuletta,” in New Orleans: click here.

As you can probably imagine, Central Grocery has a fabulous muffuletta. We try to fit in a lunch there when we’re in NOLA; this pic is from last November. Don’t you just want to pick that sandwich up and take a bite? I can almost feel the olive oil happily dripping down my chin.

Muffuletta at Central Grocery

We always pick up a jar of the olive salad to bring home when we’re at Central Grocery, but we also make our own. It’s quite easy – just chopping and assembly. It’s also very forgiving; you can leave out an ingredient or two and still get the overall olive salad mouth-feel, which is what it’s all about, a piquant, garlicky condiment with a little crunch and velvety-smooth olive oil.

“Cajun-Creole Cooking” Taught Me About Olive Salad

I have both versions of Cajun-Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson-Anderson, the original and the updated one that cuts back a little on calories, but doesn’t skimp on flavor. I make an olive salad by taking a little from both of her recipes.

Ms. Thompson-Anderson’s olive salad recipes are surprisingly different, illustrating the point about how you can have a great one with a variety of ingredients. One has cauliflower and carrots, one doesn’t; one has cocktail onions, the other doesn’t. Only one has fresh herbs, and the ratios of red wine vinegar to olive oil vary. However, I’ve made them both, and they’re both great. More than that, they both taste authentic. So basically, Terry Thompson-Anderson taught me to make olive salad, and I’ve forged my own version after learning from hers.

Glover Gardens Olive Salad

This makes more than you’ll need for the pasta salad – but that’s ok! The olive salad keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator, and also, you can have muffulettas!


  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 5-6 large cloves)
  • 1 15 oz. jar of small pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cocktail onions, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 2 large celery stalks, minced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pimentos or roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of minced fresh carrots
  • 2 tbsp of minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Muffuletta Pasta Salad

Remember, this is an inexact recipe—and that’s ok. Dive in, it will be great!


  • A combination of ham, mortadella and salami, cubed or sliced in small squares, about 2-3 cups
  • Provolone cheese, cubed or sliced in small squares, about 1 cup
  • 1 4 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
  • Grape tomatoes, quartered, about 20, or around 2/3 cup chopped very ripe and red tomato
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped, about 1/4 cup, plus a little more for garnish, torn
  • 1-2 cups of olive salad (or more) – recipe above
  • 8 ounces dried penne pasta, or other short pasta of your choice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar and good quality olive oil, if needed
  • Optional garnishes: grated parmesan, large stuffed green olives, thinly sliced

Cooking Instructions

Prep all the ingredients listed before the pasta and have them ready. Cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain and add the olive salad immediately. The warm pasta will really soak up the flavors. Let the pasta cool for a few minutes, then add the meats, provolone, olives, tomatoes and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add more olive salad and/or oil and vinegar, to taste. Garnish with the parsley, grated parmesan and sliced green olives (if using) and serve at room temperature.

Yum! Doubling Down on the Protein

The Muffuletta Salad was really good! I made waaaaay too much of it, using a pound of penne pasta (I altered the recipe above to reduce the amounts). We are only two people hunkering down and hiding from COVID-19, so what was I thinking when I cooked all that pasta???

The salad was an accompaniment to grilled fish when I first made it, then it was lunch, and then we made it a main course last night by amping up the proteins and adding grilled shrimp seasoned with my Zippy Cajun spice mix and grilled jalapeño sausage. We repurpose our leftovers quite a bit here at Glover Gardens, and this was a super-successful attempt. To feel a little more healthy, we did our Grilled Asparagus. Bust my buttons, that was a good dinner!!!

Muffuletta Pasta Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Sausage, alongside some healthy grilled asparagus

Stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay in touch.

© 2020, Glover Gardens

5 thoughts on “Missing Jazz Fest; But at Least We’ve Got Muffuletta Pasta Salad”

  • Looks delicious! I’d definitely add the shrimp to mine. I worked EVERY day, of EVERY Jazz Fest, as a member of the NOPD from 1996 until I retired in 2014. All I could think about every year was how I couldn’t wait to retire so I never had to step foot onto the Fairgrounds for Jazz Fest again! Now, I kind of miss it.

    • Wow, that’s amazing that you worked every jazz fest for that many years. I think I made about 6 of them during that period, and I know that there were times when you got very hot, and very wet. Thanks for keeping us safe! It would be cool for you to go back and experience it from the other side, and write about it in your blog. Did you work the whole fairgrounds, or have assigned spots? I bet you have some AMAZING stories. I’d love to hear them.

      • I was actually very fortunate. Me and my crew worked the Fairgrounds security detail year round. The Grandstand building. We were paid by Churchill Downs, which actually paid MORE than Jazz Fest paid police officers. So we were in an air conditioned building out of the weather making more money! Plus, there was the food demo stage inside and Cajun Cabin right outside on the apron. I got to know and sample food cooked by chefs like Frank Brigtsen, Susan Spicer and Poppy Tooker. I really had it pretty good.

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