In case you haven’t heard, fat – healthy fat, that is – is in. Avocado, nuts, fish, olive oil, even eggs are all politically acceptable again in recognition of their beneficial fats and the many many other important nutrients they have. About damn time. Because they’re yummy.
So, how did I take what is traditionally a gut bomb sammie and make it less damaging? First, I used whole wheat bread. Second, with the exception of a little Virginia ham, I dropped all the meats which are usually some combination of cold cuts like salami, mortadella, etc. Third, I cut out all added oil except 1 T olive oil. And fourth, I used a less damaging, olive oil-based mayonnaise and only a teeny bit at that. I left the cheese – couldn’t bring myself to cut that. I’m not even a fan of green olives, but I love this sandwich!
Healthier Muffaletta Panini
For the olive salad:
- 1/2 c kalamata olives, finely chopped
- 1/2 c green olives with pimentos, finely chopped
- 1/4 c pepperoncini, finely chopped
- 2 T (heaping) small onion, finely diced
- 1/2 c cauliflower, very finely chopped
- 1/4 t celery seed
- 1/2 t Italian seasoning
- 1/4 t fennel seed
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch fresh cracked pepper
- 2 T red wine vinegar
- 1 T c extra virgin olive oil
For the panini:
- 12 thin slices deli Virginia ham
- 6 slices provolone
- 12 slices 100% whole wheat bread (preferably homemade or from a bakery)
- just a smidge mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo) or Dijon mustard
- cooking spray (preferably olive oil)
In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the olive salad and put to chill in the fridge for at least an hour to blend flavors.
To make the panini, lay 1 slice of bread and spread just a very thin layer mayo (really just to act as a glue). Layer a couple slices ham, some olive salad, a slice of cheese, and the second piece of bread also spread with a very thin layer mayo. Spray the outside sides of bread with olive oil cooking spray.
Heat a panini pan or press (if not available, a large, nonstick skillet can be used, pressing with a spatula to flatten the sandwich a bit). Cook until bread is toasty. Yield: 6 sandwiches.