Recently, a good friend and blog reader noted very correctly that the list of Appetizers on the Recipe page of this blog was "rather short." This is my attempt correct that deficiency. As you likely have perceived by now, I have a very strong Italian bias, so I elected to title this blog Antipasti.
Antipasti, literally "before the pasta", is the Italian name for what we typically call appetizers or hors d'oeuvres – or something that is served first in a formal multi-course meal. As we all know, however, appetizers also are great party foods, and for some occasions can be the only food that is served. Either way, the general intent is to create selections that use interesting and complementary ingredients, stimulate conversation, and (of course) feed your guests.
Cheese Fondue with Apple Cider
Goat Cheese with Spinach and Tomato Salsa
Grilled Garlic Bruschetta
Jalapeno Crab Dip
Roasted Eggplant Spread
Roasted Red Peppers
Also very frankly, I struggled with whether or not preparing a classic Italian antipasti tray deserved its own recipe page. I decided it did not. Let me explain why. Italians love their vegetables, cheeses, and salumi (cured meats). Every region, in fact most villages, have their own special selections. Consequently, an antipasti tray from any two locales would contain entirely different foods – even though both would contain cheeses, vegetables, and sausages. And that’s not even including the olives! In other words, this is not really a recipe – it is more of a concept, or an idea.
Any of us can build on this idea, too. The next time you are selecting appetizers for a dinner or party, consider preparing your own version of this classic. Begin with a large tray and fill it with a selection of your favorite sausages, cheeses, vegetables (roasted, fresh, pickled, or preserved in olive oil), olives (any variety will do, but Gaeta, Castelvetrano, and Kalamata olives are always superb choices), peppers (mild or not), crusty bread and crackers – and a side dish containing your best extra virgin olive oil. It is easy to prepare, colorful, full of interesting textures and flavors, and will definitely please your family and guests.