Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe

This easy Mardi Gras dinner recipe is about to bring the Carnival to your kitchen. Learn how to make a quick muffaletta sandwich and delicious Cajun cauliflower today!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • February 9, 2021

For the past 184 years, Mardi Gras parades have lit up the night sky of New Orleans. But, even though in-person events have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, you can still get your Carnival on right from your home with our easy Mardi Gras recipe. 

All you have to do is throw last year’s beads over your neck, cook up our festive Muffaletta Sandwich and Cajun Roasted Cauliflower, find a Mardi Gras event online, and let the good times roll. With every delicious bite, you’ll feel the beat of jovial music, see the flash of vibrant colors, and sense the excitement in the air.

“This sandwich . . . incredible. It was totally great. Loved the tapenade and was shocked at how easy it was to make!” 

– Ann H.

If you aren’t too familiar with Mardi Gras, it quite hilariously translates to “Fat Tuesday” in French. It gets its name from the practice of eating rich foods the night before Lent and fasting start in the Roman Catholic tradition. So to do Fat Tuesday justice with a positively amazing meal, we are bringing you our version of the New Orleans’ muffaletta sandwich.

A classic muffaletta sandwich is made on Italian muffaletta bread with layers of cheese, pork-based meats, and a signature olive salad / spread. And, since Mardi Gras brings so many people together, our recipe brings together Italian and Cajun flavors in true New Orleans style with a side dish of Cajun roasted cauliflower.

So if you’re ready to make a stellar Mardi Gras recipe for Fat Tuesday, find out what you need for this festive meal below . . .

“I’m not a fan of olives but I made the tapenade and it was really great! Husband really enjoyed it and even made a comment a couple days later that we should make it again.” 

– Allison T.

Meal Planning Smarts

Budget Cooking

  • Although the muffaletta sandwich is traditionally made on muffaletta bread, it will turn out beautifully on any good quality focaccia or ciabatta, which you can get at almost any grocery store.
  • Italian, deli-sliced meats are essential to this sandwich, but since any combination of ham, Genoa salami, and / or mortadella will work well, just look for what is most cost effective!
  • For some ingredients, a little goes a long way. For example, even though you will only use part of a jar of capers and part of a jar of roasted red bell peppers, you can use the rest to bring bursts of flavors to many more meals. They’ll keep in the fridge and are budget-friendly ways to add a boost of flavor to any dish.
  • The celery seed in our olive and bell pepper tapenade is optional, so feel free to omit it to save on your grocery bill.

Time Savers

  • To make the sandwiches come together even faster, you can always make the olive and bell pepper tapenade up to 5 days ahead of time.
  • You can also save time by buying cauliflower that is already chopped into florets.


  • If you have any leftover Italian deli meat, you can use it to make omelets, salads, pizzas, appetizers, or other types of Italian sandwiches.
  • Since cauliflower freezes well, you can pop leftovers in the freezer to use later.

Prepping Smarts

  • If you want to learn the easiest, most efficient way to chop cauliflower, watch this 30 second video!

How to Chop Cauliflower

Cauliflower is such a tasty vegetable to cook. See how easy it is to prep here.

Equipment Smarts

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Muffaletta with Cajun Roasted Cauliflower

This easy Mardi Gras recipe for Fat Tuesday features a classic muffaletta sandwich with layers of flavor and a burst of heat from roasted Cajun-spiced cauliflower.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 40 min

Serves: 4


  • Olives, mixed and pitted green and kalamata - 3/4 cup (ideally from the olive bar)
  • Roasted red bell peppers - 4 oz, drained and chopped (from a jar)
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Capers - 1 tsp, drained and rinsed
  • Celery seed (opt) - 1/4 tsp
  • Oregano, dried - 1/4 tsp
  • Vinegar, red wine - 1 tsp
  • Cauliflower - 1 lb, florets
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Cajun seasoning - 2 tsp
  • Focaccia or Ciabatta or Muffaletta - 1 loaf
  • Deli-sliced meats, Italian - 1 lb (any combination of ham, Genoa salami, and / or Mortadella)
  • Cheese, deli-sliced provolone - 6 oz



  1. Make tapenade – (If prepping right before cooking, get oven heating before continuing with prep.) Combine olives, roasted bell peppers, garlic, capers, celery seed, dried oregano, and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is chopped but some pea-sized pieces still remain. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop everything very finely by hand or use an immersion blender or standing blender, which will produce a more smooth tapenade.) Taste and season with some salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Cauliflower – Chop cauliflower into florets. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead).


  1. Heat oven to 400F / 204C degrees.
  2. Toss cauliflower with oil, Cajun seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan.
  3. Roast cauliflower, shaking pan halfway through cooking, until tender and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. When cauliflower is nearly finished roasting, assemble Muffaletta.
  5. Optional step: If your bread is more than a day old or if you’d like it warm, warm it up in the oven for a few minutes.
  6. Drain excess liquid off of tapenade (this is especially important if you made the tapenade ahead).
  7. Slice bread open to separate the top and bottom.
  8. Spread the bottom half of the bread with tapenade. Top with alternating slices of meat and cheese. Place top half of bread on top.
  9. Slice the sandwich into individual portions.
  10. Serve sandwich with cauliflower on the side and enjoy!

A little note:

Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

If you know anyone who likes a really good sandwich or who is bummed they can’t go to Carnival this year, don’t forget to send this recipe on to them. Also, let us know what your favorite Mardi Gras recipes for Fat Tuesday are in the comments below!

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