Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Big Antipasto

For Easter this year, I decided to do an Italian-style 4-course meal.  We're not Italian (not even a tiny bit) but I just can't help appreciating the love of family and food that Italians have and I thought it'd be fun to share that appreciation with my own family.  It also didn't hurt that eating in courses makes it less of a rush to have everything ready and on the table all at once.  ;-)

The first course in a formal Italian meal is the Antipasto.  While many restaurants use the term to describe an Italian-inspired salad, the term more accurately translates to the concept of an "appetizer."  Since it comes before the pasta course, it usually does not include pasta.  Typically, it comprises of a platter of cured meats, cheese, and preserved or pickled items.  A traditional antipasto platter probably has more in common with the French "Salad Nicoise" than it does with a salad.

Here in Rhode Island, we have a local Italian restaurant that serves what I consider to be the best antipasto.  It may not be 100% authentic (it is served over a bed of lettuce), but it's darned-near close.  It's this antipasto that I wanted to re-create for our Easter dinner.

My version stayed pretty true to the original, though I substituted or omitted a couple of things to suite our tastes.  Here's what you see:
  • A bed of romaine and iceberg lettuce (trust me--it's buried under there) along with cucumbers and shredded carrots
  • Ham
  • Genoa Salami
  • Chickpeas
  • Red and Yellow Roasted Red Peppers
  • White Albacore Tuna (dry)
  • Vinegar Peppers
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Green Olives
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sliced Provolone Cheese
The original version also has black olives and Hot Italian Peppers.  It also is served with cappicola, a spiced ham, instead of the standard American deli ham.  You might also see mortadella, a deli meat similar to bologna.

The traditional dressing for this is an Italian Vinaigrette.  I chose this recipe, which is quite delicious.  I also offered an option of a homemade raspberry vinaigrette made from the last jar of my homemade raspberry jam.

Needless to say, this salad was a hit.  I highly recommend it for your next family gathering or, heck, maybe just as a complete lunch (you *can* make a smaller one and it's very filling).

1 comment:

  1. Roasted red peppers was always my favorite along with the chick peas.


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