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Difference Between Muffuletta And Tapenade

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Muffuletta is a Sicilian-American sandwich that is typically made with an Italian bread that is similarly named as the sandwich. 

The sandwich bread is cut horizontally and filled with layers and layers of thinly sliced Italian cold cuts, as well as an olive-based spread. 

This olive-based spread found in muffuletta is known as olive salad and it can be compared to another popular olive-based spread known as tapenade.

Tapenade has a couple similarities with the muffuletta olive salad, and it is sometimes used as a substitute for the olive salad in muffuletta 

In this post, we discuss the differences between this muffuletta olive salad and tapenade  

What is muffuletta?

A sandwich from New Orleans.

This sandwich gets its name from a Sicilian round bread with a soft crust, topped with sprinkles of sesame seeds

This flatbread is also used to make the sandwich. 

This sandwich was First created at the Central Grocery in New Orleans

It originated among Italian immigrant population in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it has since become a New Orleans staple  

This sandwich can be served cold or toasted 

The bread split horizontally and stuffed with marinated muffuletta-style olive salad, different Italian cold cuts and cheese

The cheese and cold cuts used may vary from one sandwich-maker to another, however, the sandwich typically contains olive salad.

What is olive salad?

Olive salad is an olive-based spread that consists of diced olives and giardiniera which is an assortment of pickled vegetables.

Giardiniera consists of chopped celery, cauliflower and carrots. 

The olive salad is seasoned also with oregano and garlic and covered with olive oil. These ingredients are then allowed to marinate for at least 24 hours during which their flavor improves.

Olive salad is typically used as a spread for muffuletta sandwiches.

What is tapenade?


Tapenade is commonly used in southern French cuisine. It is also popular worldwide 

This olive-based spread originated from Provence, a region in the south of France. The word “tapenade” is derived from “tapenas” an old Provencal word for capers.

Traditionally made from French niçoise olives, caper berries, olive oil, and anchovies. The recipe for this spread varies slightly from cook to cook and it may also feature additional ingredients.

Tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, garlic, parsley and peppers are also used to make tapenade.

These ingredients are mashed together to form a thick paste and allowed to rest for some time for the flavors to blend.

This thick paste could also be served at room temperature, it is savory and has a briny flavor   

Uses of tapenade

Tapenade is versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.

It can be part of an appetizer or a main dish. It can be used to flavor meats, Tapenade can then be spread on toast, or used as a dip for bread or crackers.  

This spread can be used in salads, soups, as well as a pasta sauce.

Tapenade could also be used as a substitute for olive salad in muffuletta sandwich.

Tapenade Vs. Muffuletta Olive salad

Tapenade is a traditional French spread while muffuletta is a New Orleans sandwich that typically features an olive-based spread that is similar to tapenade, and which is known as olive salad.

While tapenades and muffuletta olive salads are made with similar ingredients, olive salads do not contain anchovies. However, they contain giardiniera which is not typically used in tapenade.

As tapenade are similar to New Orleans olive salad, they are sometimes used in muffulettas as substitutes for olive salads.