Start your meal or party off on Italian footing with antipasto. The word means “before the meal,” and in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley finds roots for the course in medieval Italy, where small samplings of food were available before banquets. Antipasto is meant to pique the interest of the eater, creating anticipation for the meal about to be eaten. This means the options are limited only by the cook’s imagination. From bruschetta to platters of meats and cheeses, you can create the course to be whatever you want. To get your creative cooking juices flowing, here are seven recipes.
1. Bruschetta with Sautéed Mushrooms
Get away from the typical tomato topped bruschetta with the mushroom version created by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos for the Cooking Channel. It yields about four to six servings.
- Italian bread, sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped (recommended: shiitake, portobello, crimini)
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and freshly chopped
- 1 small handful fresh thyme, leaves picked and freshly chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Toast your bread in a toaster or on the grill, or if you are lucky enough to own one, an Italian stovetop toaster. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and another sprinkling olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often. Add the parsley and thyme, cook for another 5 minutes. Serve the mushrooms warm, on top of the bread slices, dress with some extra salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.
2. Marinated Peppers
The roasted and marinated peppers from AllRecipes.com will be a colorful addition to your dinner table or appetizer spread. Using one of each variety of pepper will yield about 3 servings.
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1½ cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the whole red, green and yellow peppers in the oven directly on the rack. Roast for about 15 minutes, turning if needed, until the skin is well scorched. Immediately place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a paper bag, and allow to cool.
Remove the skins from the peppers by rubbing with your hands, and rinse under cold water. Cut in half, remove stem and seeds, then cut into strips. Place peppers into a medium serving bowl, and stir in the garlic, vinegar, oil, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
3. Antipasto Platter
Giada de Laurentiis is leaving many decisions when it comes to this antipasto platter up to the home chef. Include the options that sound most appealing to you, and suit the tastes of your guests. You could also take bits and pieces of de Laurentiis’s Food Network recipe and serve them on their own, if you’re feeding a smaller crowd or making a side dish for a family dinner.
- 1 pound assorted sliced deli meats (such as salami, spicy capocollo, prosciutto, mortadella, and bresaola)
- ½ pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into irregular chunks
- 1 loaf focaccia bread, sliced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Assorted cut-up vegetables (such as carrots, celery, fennel bulb, radishes, red and orange bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ cups Sicilian cracked green olives
- 1½ cups kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Roasted Pepper Salad
- 3 red bell peppers
- 2 orange bell pepper
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: For the pinzimonio (which serves between 4 and 6), stir the oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. Serve the vegetables with the dip.
For the marinated olives, stir the oil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a heavy small skillet over medium heat just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the olives and toss to coat. Add the basil; toss to coat. Serve. It yields 3 cups of olives.
The roasted pepper salad can be kept covered in the fridge for up to two days. To make, preheat the broiler. Cover a heavy baking sheet with foil. Arrange the bell peppers on the baking sheet. Broil until the skins brown and blister, turning the peppers over occasionally, about 15 minutes. Enclose the peppers in a resealable plastic bag. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Peel, seed, and cut the peppers into ½-inch thick strips. Toss the pepper strips, olives, oil, capers, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
On a large platter, arrange the meats, cheeses, and foccacia. Arrange a platter of Pinzimonio. Place the Marinated Olives and Roasted Red Pepper Salad in small serving bowls. Serve, allowing guests to compose their own assortment of antipasti on their plate.
4. Fig-and-Prosciutto Flatbreads
Slice the flatbreads Chef Todd English shared with Food & Wine into appetizer sized portions for an antipasto offering. The quickest way to make the flatbreads is to use a store-bough pizza dough, but if you want to make your own, you could select one of these recipes.
- 2 (12-ounce) balls of pizza dough, at room temperature
- all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup fig jam (from a 6-ounce jar)
- ¼ pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- 3 ounces sliced prosciutto
- 1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced
Directions: Place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow at least 45 minutes for the pizza stone to heat thoroughly. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the pizza dough to a 13-inch round. Dust a pizza peel with flour and slide the dough onto it.
Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with half of the garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Dollop ¼ cup of the fig jam all over the crust, being sure to leave a 1-inch border of dough all around. Scatter half of the cheese and prosciutto over the dough.
Slide the flatbread onto the stone and bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer the flatbread to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make the second flatbread. Garnish with the sliced scallion and serve.
5. Sautéed Black Olives with Tomatoes
For an olive option that differs from de Laurentiis’ platter, try Martha Stewart‘s sautéed olives with tomatoes. It yields about four servings and would pair well with slices of toasted Italian or French bread.
- 1 cup (6 ounces) Nicoise or Kalamata olives
- 3 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Directions: Rinse and drain olives; you can pit them or not, whichever you prefer. Combine tomatoes and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, add garlic, and cook over medium-low heat until just starting to brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Add olives and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, cook over medium heat until juices thicken a bit and flavors are combined, 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.
6. Antipasto Kabobs
Turn the antipasto platter into a skewer with Taste of Home‘s recipe. If you don’t find yourself in need of forty skewers, cut down on the recipe, and make a pasta salad out of your leftover tortellini.
- 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 40 pimiento-stuffed olives
- 40 large pitted ripe olives
- ¾ cup Italian salad dressing
- 40 thin slices pepperoni
- 20 thin slices hard salami, halved
- Fresh parsley sprigs, optional
Directions: Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the tortellini, olives and salad dressing. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Drain and discard marinade. For each appetizer, thread a stuffed olive, folded pepperoni slice, tortellini, folded salami piece, ripe olive and parsley sprig if desired on a toothpick or short skewer.
7. Antipasto Salad
The antipasto salad from Gourmet via Epicurious is a substantially sized salad, perfect for sharing. It yields about eight servings, and everyone who tries it will be asking for the recipe not only for the salad, but the homemade vinaigrette as well.
- 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 hearts of romaine (12 ounces total), torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained, and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick strips
- 2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 cup assorted brine-cured olives
- 1 cup drained bottled peperoncini (5 ounces)
- ½ pound cherry tomatoes, halved
Directions: To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl until combined well.
For the salad, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then add onion and simmer until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Spread romaine on a large platter and scatter with parsley, peppers, artichokes, olives, peperoncini, tomatoes, and onion. Whisk vinaigrette again and drizzle over salad.