Antipasto (plural antipasti), means ‘before the meal’ – the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
The Italian equivalent of saying “First, we eat this, then we EAT…”
The holidays are upon us and along with that comes entertaining, both planned and unplanned. I love a good pop-by, the unexpected pure pleasure of friends and laughter. During the holidays I always have a supply of quick snacks on hand for those impromptu parties that just ‘happen’ on a Thursday night. And, really, elegant entertaining is so easy.
This antipasto was as simple as a run to my favorite deli and grabbing a favorite platter. I like to think in terms of contrasting and complementary tastes… the sweet with the savory… the salty with the acidic.
Colour and flavor all play a part, but the thing I like the most about this tray is that it is simple, delicious and… relatively healthy. I’ve done many versions of antipasto; it’s easy on a buffet because it’s quick to fill and easy to prepare ahead of time.
Start with sweet… figs, sliced. Add a fine cured meat… prosciutto, rolled. A sweet, crisp cracker, here Raincoast Crisps Rosemary, Raisin, Pecan. A grilled yellow pepper.
Three generous dabs of Balsamic reduction… which is as easy as simmering some good balsamic vinegar for a few minutes until thick and syrupy, then cooling and letting it drip. Blanched asparagus – quickly cooked to a bright green, then immediately cooled in ice water to retain its crispness. A mild cheese – a round of buffalo mozzarella cut in thick wedges.
More figs (how I love figs!). Chunks of sharp cheese; ripe, aged authentic Parmesan. A bright, ripe tomato, sliced, and a grilled zucchini. (Forgive the grilling, indoor on an electric stove. Miss my grill and an outdoor space. I visit it from time to time in the storage locker. *I miss you Baby!!*)
I get in trouble all the time at Le Cordon Bleu for ‘under cooking’ my vegetables. I like them crisp and fresh tasting. I would have preferred a bit more even-heat on these. I like to see the flesh a bit more golden. Hey. You rock it your way…
My point is – not complicated. Not expensive.
Just add a little drizzle of olive oil and grab a good sourdough bread and… RELAX.
Took a little time to plate and that slight obsessive compulsive thing kicked in and next thing I know I was balancing yellow peppers and counting asparagus stems watching my numbers… even, even odd… odd, even… even… odd, even. Lined up. Perfectly. (Must wash hands three times…)
My guests could indulge a little, still feel healthy and leave room for their entree while we all enjoyed a nice glass/bottle/bottles of champagne.
Hey, if there’s enough champagne (and antipasto)… who needs dinner?!
Am I right?!