On Saturday night, we celebrated Halloween at our friends’ house. There were spreads of food: think hot dogs that looked like fingers, chicken wings that looked like bat wings, and a graveyard cake covered with ghost Peeps and gummy worms. There was also a cauldron of witch’s brew. And a bonfire. And fireworks. And wine. Bottles and bottles of wine.
No matter the costume or the wig, I tend to grow a wild hair on Halloween and that usually means imbibing a little too much. This year was no exception. I sat nursing a pretty good headache for the majority of Sunday, with lips stained red from my cheap red lipstick, raccoon eyes from my feeble face-washing attempt the night before, and smelling of wood smoke. I may or may not have stayed in my PJs all day. They just don’t make Rosies as tough as they used to. Or I’m too old for this shit, one.
Out of desperation to get rid of my wine-induced headache and to resupply my body with nutrients, I dug in the fridge and found olive-cauliflower-pepperoncini-and-other-good-stuff salad leftover from homemade muffulettas. Pickled, salty perfection. On my quest for a hangover cure, I was getting warmer.
I love muffalettas for their wow factor. They have a lot going on, and that’s what makes them so good. Pillowy French bread, layered with mozzarella, provolone, salami, ham, mortadella, and their signature (never 2 alike) olive salad. Like all good sandwiches, this one was born out of necessity to feed hungry farmers. In the muffaletta’s case, it was created in a New Orleans Italian market in the early 1900s.
The pickled relish had been sitting for a couple days, so all the flavors had married. I couldn’t quite stomach a whole sandwich, so I figured I’d throw the relish in a blender with tomato juice and a couple other ingredients and call it a Bloody Mary. Wait—A Muffaletta Mary! The list of possible garnishes is endless: a hunk of provolone or a ball of fresh mozz, pickled cauliflower, cocktail onions, olives, Genoa Salami, ham, mortadella, or pepperoncini, a lightly toasted buttered square of bread.
No matter your garnish, you’ve got yourself a hell of a drink and a pretty effective hangover cure.
If alcohol isn’t your thing, I also think this would make an excellent gazpacho. Why? Because this recipe makes a thick pureed blend of briny, tomato-rich liquid. Serve with provolone toast, and you’ve got yourself an effective hangry cure.
- For the olive salad
- 1 cup Giardiniera or picked Italian cauliflower, carrots, peppers, olives and celery (found with other Italian food or olives at most grocery stores)
- ¾ cup green olives stuffed with pimentos
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 2 pepperoncini peppers (depending how many you used from the Giardiniera--you want about 4 total)
- ¼ cup cocktail onions
- 2-3 basil leaves
- black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. brine from Giardiniera or pepperoncinis
- For the Marys
- 1 cup olive salad
- 4 cups Tomato Juice
- 1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
- 1 Tbsp, tomato paste
- 1 Tsp. hot sauce of your choice
- 4 dashed of Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Garnishes: Old Bay for glass rim, lemon, mozzarella balls, salami, sharp provolone cubes, pepperoncinis, olives, or celery.
- To make the olive salad, add Giardiniera, olives, peppers, cocktail onions, basil leaves, black pepper, and brine to a blender. Blend until everything is chopped and mixed together.
- Add tomato juice and all other ingredients to the blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to marry. Don't worry if it seems thick. The vodka will water it down a bit.
- Pour over ice with desired amount of vodka.
- Garnish with hard salami, provolone, pepperoncini, olives, and celery.