Monday, July 1, 2013

Antipasto Platter


Antipasto is an Italian word that means "before the meal."  It is a platter filled with cured meats, cheeses, pickled veggies, olives, and artichokes, to name a few.  My daughter and I love antipasto and sometimes just fix a plate with various pickled items and cheese out of the fridge.  This platter started out when I wanted to make homemade Giardiniera, which is spicy pickled veggies.  The plate just grew from there.  I marinated mushrooms and artichokes.  I made bocconcini, which is little balls of mozzarella marinated in olive oil, garlic and chili flakes.  And I whipped up a batch of Sun-Dried Tomato Spread too.  Mix and match your favorite parts and take it to your next get-together.  It is sure to be a hit!

ANTIPASTO PLATTER
Assorted salami slices (or different flavors of ham, like Proscuitto)
One 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
Olive oil
Basil
Salt & pepper
Green olives
Kalamata olives
Crackers (your choice)
An 8-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
Giardiniera (recipe to follow)
Marinated mushrooms and artichokes (recipe to follow)
Bocconcini (recipe to follow)
Sun-Dried Tomato Spread (recipe to follow)

Mix some olive oil, the basil, and salt & pepper in a bowl.  Drizzle over the mozzarella slices and tomato slices.  Arrange on the platter in any order all of the other parts of the platter.  Use bowls or cups to bring a different element to your plate.


SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
4 ounces cream cheese
1 T mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a food processor.  Great with crackers, pita chips, or veggies.


MARINATED MUSHROOMS & ARTICHOKES
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, quartered
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 C olive oil
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 3.5-ounce jar capers undrained
2 T red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper, and red wine vinegar together.  Stir in the mushrooms and artichokes.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight.


Traditional versions of Giardiniera use oil in their pickling process. However, I just wanted the spicy and pickled flavor to shine through without the greasiness of oil.  And it is a several-day process since you have to brine the veggies for 24 hours before starting the pickling process. It pickles in a day or two, but the longer it sits the better it gets!  This is great by itself of on sandwiches or antipasto platters.

GIARDINIERA
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 carrots, sliced
4-8 serrano peppers, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, sliced
One 8-ounce jar pepperoncini peppers, drained
1/4 C salt
1 T oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T dill seed
1 T mustard seed
1 C red wine vinegar
2 C white vinegar
1 C water

To brine the veggies, dissolve the salt in a large bowl of warm water. When it is dissolved, add the veggies in.  Cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.  After 24 hours, drain and rinse the veggies.

Mix the spices, seasonings, vinegar and water together in a bowl.  Add in the veggies.  Cover and let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.


My daughter and I absolutely adore Bocconcini, which is Mozzarella balls marinated in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.  When we've bought them at the store, we have always fought over them.  I wanted to make my own so we could have an endless supply of them.  The recipe uses fresh Mozzarella, the kind packed in a watery liquid.  I actually found a package of fresh Mozzarella pearls, which is what you see in the pitcure. If you can't find the Mozzarella pearls, just buy the big ball of cheese and cube it.

BOCCONCINI
One 8-ounce package Mozzarella pearls (or an 8-ounce ball, cubed)
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Remove the cheeze from the liquid and discard the liquid.  In a bowl, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the cheese.  Add in the basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.  It will keep three or four days.  You may need to let it sit out on the counter to warm up the oil if it gets too thick.

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