Curated and considered for the modern primal life

Muffaletta Salad by Melissa Joulwan - Whole30 Compliant

Posted on June 26, 2015 by Alyssa Cassidy

Not only is this recipe delicious but it's also Whole30 compliant! That's always a win in our book, and so is every recipe we've ever tried from Melissa Joulwan, aka The Clothes Make the Girl. Give this recipe a shot and head to her pages (linked below the recipe) for a whole slew of amazing eats, and even more awesome paleo resources. 


(Photo credit: David Humphreys)

When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes take us to a food market in Reading, Pennsylvania (I think?) — stalls of butchers, produce vendors, prepared foods — and my two favorite stands were the bulk foods (sesame sticks!) and the Italian deli where we’d buy perfectly-spicy and just-greasy-enough, sliced pepperoni and brightly-colored giardiniera salad.

Traditional giardiniera salad is made from pickled cauliflower, carrots, and celery, and it’s got an astringent, but not unpleasant, vinegar sting. The giardiniera from the Italian deli wasn’t like that. This giardiniera was tinged with olive oil, making the vegetables simultaneously slinky and crisp. In fact, both the pepperoni and giardiniera salad — packed in heavy-gauge plastic bags and wrapped with twist ties— made the tips of my fingers shiny as I reached into the bags on the way home to grab nibbles when I thought no one was looking.

The last time I bought pickles at the grocery store, I saw a jar of Mezzetta Giardiniera Salad on the top shelf, and as my hand reached out to grab it and add it to my cart, I thought, Why am I not making this myself?!

Back at home, I researched recipes and realized that the long-ago giardiniera salad wasn’t really giardiniera after all. It was more like a cousin to the relish used in muffaletta sandwiches. So here’s my take on a Muffaletta Salad: crisp-tender cauliflower, carrots, and celery tossed in a simple, flavorful vinaigrette that’s spiked with the briny bite of olives and finished off with the hot-sweet balance of both pickled banana peppers and roasted red bells. Perfect for summer potlucks or topping off a plate of grilled meats. — Melissa

Muffaletta Salad

Serves 4-6| Prep 15 min | Cook 20 min | Whole30 compliant

(photo credit: David Humphreys) 


1/2 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

2 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 medium celery stalks, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 anchovy fillet, minced (or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste)

1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped

1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped

1 roasted red bell pepper (from a jar or freshly roasted), chopped

1/4 cup jarred, sliced banana peppers, drained and chopped


1. Steam the cauliflower, carrot, and celery until just tender, about 12-14 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, use a whisk or fork to mix the vinegar, anchovy, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper until combined, then drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly.

2. When the veggies are just the way you want them, drain excess water and add the hot vegetables to the dressing in the bowl. Toss with two wooden spoons until coated evenly. Add the olives and peppers, tossing again with  the wooden spoons until combined. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Place in a covered container in the fridge until cool, then adjust seasonings again. Serve chilled.

 Note: This tastes even better with age. It’s delicious when you make it and mind-blowingly yummy the second and third days. Believe it. Should the leftovers last long enough for you to grow weary of eating it as a salad, heat it in a non-stick skillet, then drizzle it with a little more extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle it with a handful of chopped parsley, and serve it as a hot side dish.

Melissa Joulwan is the author of the cookbooks Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat, and the blog The Clothes Make The Girl, where she writes about her triumphs and failures in the gym, in the kitchen, and in life.

After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and food as the enemy, Melissa found the paleo diet in 2009 and has been happily following it ever since. That year, she also underwent a thyroidectomy. In the aftermath, she became particularly interested in how diet affects hormones, body composition, mood, and motivation. These days, Melissa’s workouts are just as likely to include yoga and meditation as lifting heavy things and sprinting to stay ahead of the stopwatch. 

Well Fed 2 was named one of the best books of 2013 by and was a Washington Post best seller. In 2014, it won the grand prize in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Her first cookbook Well Fed appeared on the Wall Street Journal best sellers list, and she’s the author of the recipes in the New York Times bestselling book It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. She writes a column for Paleo Magazine, is a Community Ambassador for Experience Life magazine, and has been a featured chef for U.S. Wellness Meats and Lava Lake Lamb, as well as an instructor at Whole Foods.

Web site: The Clothes Make The Girl -






Posted in barbecue, bbq, grilling, salad, sides, whole 30, whole30



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