The Italian word “antipasto” literally means ‘before the meal,’ but I love this type of food so much, I served it as the meal at a little Oscars party we had on Sunday.
The term antipasto is very broad as it includes a wide selection of appetizers that may consist of a combination of cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, bread, fish, seafood, fruit and much, much more.
It’s an ideal way to feed people informally if you don’t feel like doing a sit down dinner or if you’re all gathered in the living room around the TV. It’s very easy to prepare, and usually doesn’t involve much more than opening some jars, arranging sliced meats, and locating the best breads around. Using good ingredients and the best quality products is key to a great antipasto! Also important is serving everything at room temperature(unless, of course, it is meant to be enjoyed hot, such as meatballs.) One can better appreciate the flavors if what they are eating is not bone cold.
These spicy Italian sausages were great cooked up, sliced, and served with grainy mustard and gherkins.
Just to get you started, here are a few recipes to try out!
Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Thyme
A generous handful of cherry tomatoes
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spring of thyme
2 garlic cloves
Serve warm or at room temperature with crusty bread.
Wilted Spinach and Garlic Crostini with Parmesan
Half French baguette, sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 - 10 oz bags baby spinach
2 teaspoons butter
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 anchovies, minced
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Parmesan, for garnish
Brush baguette slices with some of the olive oil and place on baking sheet. Toast until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and let cool.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and add spinach. ( you may have to do it in two batches, depending on the size of your skillet) Stir often until wilted and it begins to release a lot of its juices. Drain off liquid and turn spinach onto paper towel. Blot spinach dry.
Heat remaining oil in skillet. Cook garlic, anchovies and hot pepper flakes for about two minutes or until golden. Add spinach and toss to coat with oil and garlic sauce. Cook gently until well coated and warm. Season to taste with salt.
Divide spinach among toasted baguette crostinis and top with a shaving of Parmesan.
Mmm! Makes me want to go whip some up right now! Yes, Tammy, you may substitute goat cheese for the Parmesan, but it won’t be quite as exciting. It really benefits from the sharp, salty Parmesan.