I'm always coming up with new versions of the charcuterie-packed muffuletta sandwich because it's a guaranteed hit, especially at a picnic or the beach. You can make it in advance—the longer it sits, the better it gets—and it's so full of meat, cheese, and greens that you don't need to serve anything else. When I was a kid, my mom used to pack it for me for lunch at school. It was the Italian version of a bologna sandwich, and I definitely got some curious looks from my classmates, but I was too satisfied with its tender goodness to care. My special ingredient? Basil-almond pesto. I love the bright and herby sauce so much that I usually make a double batch and serve it over chicken or pork, or toss it in pasta or rice. Heaven!

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large ciabatta loaf
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced hot coppa (or other spicy salami)
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced finocchiona (or other mild salami)
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 thinly sliced small fennel bulb (stalks and fronds removed)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice


For the pesto: In a food processor, pulse raw almonds and garlic clove to chop coarsely. Add basil leaves, grated lemon zest, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse to combine. Add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and puree to a smooth paste.

For the sandwiches: Slice ciabatta loaf in half horizontally and pull out some of the inner bread, leaving a slightly hollowed crust. Spread pesto evenly on both halves. Layer hot coppa (or other spicy salami), finocchiona (or other mild salami), and fresh mozzarella (sliced or torn) onto bottom half. In a small bowl, toss baby arugula, fennel, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil; add mixture on top of meat and cheese. Add top half of bread, press sandwich together, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight (or for at least 1 hour) before slicing and serving.

Recipe Reprinted from Giada’s Italy, © 2018 by GDL Foods Inc. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


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