Cubano Muffuletta #WorldFoodChampionships

Every year at World Food Championships, we are given a specific sandwich that we must re-create with a personal spin.  The idea is to put everyone on an “even playing field,” and to see what we can do with a structured assignment.  In the past, sandwich contestants have been tasked with making everything from a traditional Cuban Sandwich to the Gulf Coast favorite, a Shrimp Po’Boy. This year’s structured build was a Muffuletta sandwich, a New Orleans staple, but with a twist.  We were to make a Muffuletta on ciabatta, thus creating the “Ciabattaletta.”

Unlike past years when I was familiar with the assigned sandwich, I’d never even tried a muffuletta.  Yes, I’d heard of it, and I knew the basics, but I’d never actually eaten one.  So, I began researching and sampling.  Unfortunately, the sandwich seemed rather straightforward and simple, but I knew that I needed to put my spin on it, so I went with what I know–Latin/Caribbean/Cuban food.

Having grown up in and around Tampa, where the first Cuban settlement in the continental US is located (Ybor City), I knew that I wanted to create a Cuban-inspired sandwich, and the Cubano Muffuletta was born.

Cubano Muffuletta #WorldFoodChampionships

Cubano Muffuletta #WorldFoodChampionships


  • Olive Salad Pickled Veggies
  • 12 oz. ale (we used Big Top Brewing’s Key Lime Wheat)
  • 1/2 c. key lime juice
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/8 c. salt
  • 1 large onion-sliced
  • 1 medium bell pepper-chunked
  • 1 c. carrot shreds
  • Olive Salad
  • 1 c. green olives with pimentos
  • 1 c. kalamata olives
  • 1 c. roasted red peppers
  • 3 TBSP crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. key lime juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Meat
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced sweet ham
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced roast pork
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced salami
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 6 ciabatta rolls


  1. Olive Salad Pickled Veggies
  2. Bring ale, key lime juice, garlic, sugar, and salt to a boil.
  3. Add onions, bell pepper, and carrot shreds, cover, and remove from heat. Allow veggies to sit in pickling liquid for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Olive Salad
  5. In a food processor, add green & kalamata olives, red peppers, crushed garlic, salt, key lime juice, olive oil, orange juice, oregano, cumin, and pickled veggies (drained). Pulse until combined, but not pureed.
  6. Allow mixture to sit and rest for another 30 minutes.
  7. Afterwards, drain liquid from salad, but reserve it.
  8. To build sandwich, brush the inside of each roll with salad liquid. Spoon a healthy portion of olive salad to the bottom roll.
  9. On the bottom roll, layer 2 slices of ham, 2 slices of pork, 2 slices of salami, and 2 slices of cheese. Then, add another 2 slices of salami, 2 slices of pork, and 2 slices of ham. Finally, spoon a healthy portion of olive salad to top and close with the top roll.
  10. Press slightly to allow juices to soak in.
  11. Cut sandwich in half and serve.
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