What is antipasto?
Antipasto means literally “before the meal” in Italian. It is typical for Italian families to have several courses especially on big occasions and antipasto is the first. It is followed by the primo (typically a pasta or soup), the secondo (the main course usually a meat, fish or chicken dish), the contorno (a side dish of vegetables), and the dolce (sweet in Italian for dessert). Antipasto can be almost anything including salads. I will try and give you some ideas, but feel free to experiment.
Meat and cheese antipasto
I am crazy about Italian meats and cheeses. The problem is that I know I should eat them in moderation. I will typically serve these on special occasions such as our traditional Christmas family dinner. I generally go with three cheeses on the platter: fresh mozzarella, aged provolone, and parmesan (preferably parmigiano reggiano). Aged provolone tastes a bit like parmesan and nothing like the deli provolone found at supermarkets. Provolone is popular in southern Italy particularly around the Po river valley and is produced (like parmesan) from cow’s milk. The word parmesan comes from parmigiano in Italian and is derived from the city of Parma. Parmigiano reggiano D.O.P. (protected designation of origin) is carefully governed and only those cheeses from a specific region in northern Italy are allowed to use the name. There are also many other controls over the cheese to give it the special and unique flavor. I suggest several meats including various varieties of salami with prosciutto and chorizo. Chorizo is a fermented, smoked, and cured sausage that derives its deep red color from dried and smoked red peppers added to it. In contrast, salami is a cured and air dried sausage that is popular with the Italian poor, because it can be kept up to one year without refrigeration. You can also use pepperoni which is a spicy type of salami, but it is similar to chorizo. I use various types of salami including those with wine, crespone salami, and those coated with herbs and pepper. See the picture below. I try to buy organic salami with no nitrates for health reasons, but in my humble opinion, they cannot match the traditional salami. One last thing - I highly recommend that you serve your meats and cheeses at room temperature.
I use a variety of vegetables (frequently marinated) on my antipasto platters. Some typical items include marinated and flame-roasted red bell peppers, pimentos, Kalamata olives (you could use green olives also), marinated mushrooms, capers, artichokes, and palm hearts, and sundried tomatoes. See the picture below. I will also frequently serve just fresh mozzarella and tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar poured on top.
1 - marinated artichokes
2 – pimentos
3 – marinated mushrooms
4 – Kalamata olives
5 – marinated palm hearts
6 – sundried tomatoes
7 – on both dishes - marinated and flame-roasted red bell peppers
8 – fresh mozzarella cheese
9 – salami coated with black pepper
10 – dry salami con vino (with wine)
11 – salami coated with various herbs
12 – chorizo
13 – parmigiano reggiano (parmesan)
14 – crespone salami
15 – prosciutto
16 – imported provolone (aged)
17 – salami with wine and peppers
Wow, this mexican salad looks anmziag!!! I always had it as a staple growing up, but I'm rediscovering it again as my flatmate had never had it before. I'm inspired to add a few touches here and there, just so she keeps the compliments coming!! Great blog though, I just started mine yesterday, and it's SO inspiring seeing what everyone is doing!!