Antipasto, the appetizer served before the traditional Italian meal. A survey of the internet will provide you with many recipes. I will not pretend to be an expert on the subject, I have not been to Italy. I have read a few of Mario Batali’s recipe books and it is possible to use many different items for an antipasto. I would like to simply throw my 2¢ into the mix and make a contribution.
I have always considered the antipasto to be a sort of fancy meat and vegetable tray. Pickled vegetables, cheeses of all sorts and whatever else you wish to add are fine. I am especially fond of Cilegine or fresh Mozzarella balls, these can be coated in numerous flavorings such as pesto or coulis of different peppers (roasted red or yellow pepper). I typically serve them in a Parmesan basket which you can see in this article. In fact when I make a platter for the catering business this is generally the first place that I start and then I will build the rest of the platter around this as one of the focal points.
Today I built this one with Pesto flavored Mozzarella in back and Capanada (Eggplant) in front. In the center Pepperoni is flanked by 2 bundles of Grilled Asparagus. Those funny green things with stems are Caper Berries.
I will then add some rolled meats around this in a sort of star fashion leaving gaps that I can later fill with vegetables and olives and peppers. For the meats I use such things as Cappacola thinly sliced and rolled. Hard salami is a fun product to use on these trays and it is fun to stuff these with an herbed cream cheese. Cut the salami as thin as you can or have the deli thin slice it when you buy it. Soften the cream cheese to room temperature and then add some fresh minced garlic some fresh thyme and basil a few drops of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Now lay out the salami circles and pipe a thin line of the cheese onto each one and simply roll it up around the cheese.
Another favorite of mine is to take thinly sliced pepperoni and stack it on a bamboo skewer. Take a lemon and slice it in half and lay it on the platter with the cut side down. Next take a bamboo skewer and push the blunt end down through the center of the end of the lemon to use it as a holder. Take 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves and cover the lemon by threading them over the skewer and then over the lemon to cover and disguise it. Next fold the thin slices of pepperoni in half and impale them on the upright skewer. Turn each slice a quarter of a turn as you stack it with the pepperoni slices. You can also use other meats and even alternate with two or three different kinds.
On this tray I put the Parmesan Basket in the back corner behind the pepperoni stack then added the rolled provolone on both sides with salami on the left and rolled smoked turkey on the right. If you look closely you see the size of the pepperoni that I used in the center. The empty space I later fill with deep fried procuito ham which you see below. The foreground is filled with the vegetables. Here you see artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, cornichon pickles, Calamata olives and grilled asparagus on the front corner as you look at it.
Grilled vegetables are really fun; take some olive oil add some minced fresh garlic, fresh herbs and salt a pepper, coat your asparagus and place it on your gas grill to cook for about a minute. Roll the asparagus over one time to mark the other side and then take it off. Chill it for 30 minutes and then add it to your platter. It will be the first item to disappear when the platter hits the table.
Here you can see the deep fried Procuito has now been added. It is now crispy like bacon it disappears as quickly as the asparagus. There is also some sliced, grilled bell pepper for color contrast, next to the asparagus.
What are your Favorite Ingredients for an Antipasto?
Please leave a comment!