I like to think of antipasto in terms of Eric Cartman‘s definition of “appetizers”: “It’s what you eat before you eat to make you hungrier for dinner!” I also like it for its multi-tasking capabilities– it’s a pretty centerpiece and keeps your guests entertained and well-fed while you struggle elegantly put finishing touches on dishes at a dinner or cocktail party. Behold the antipasto platter that I put together for the grilled pizza party:
Even better– a platter is easy and quick to put together as you can buy all the components but just touch it up here and there to make it your own. My interventions with the elements of this platter ranged from the absolute zero (just rolled some slices of sopresatta), to the minimal (tossed some store bought bocconcini with grape tomatoes and store bought pesto), to transformative but still easy (roasted olives.)
My two favorite elements from this platter are the stuffed papadu peppers and the roasted olives. I made both of these from ingredients found at a local grocery store’s olive bar. Papadu are small, spicy but sweet red peppers. Since your kind grocery store or pepper potter (if you find them in a jar in the pickle aisle) has seeded them, the hole left behind just begs to be stuffed with cheese of some kind. I filled these with about 1 tsp each of creamy chevre. The heat of the pepper is mellowed by the tangy goat cheese which at the same time complements and highlights the pepper’s sweetness. It’s a perfect one bite kind of deal.
The olives are inspired by a local pizza place which admittedly, completely changed my mind about olives. It takes some convincing for me to eat salty, pickled things, but roasting takes off some of the sting of the vinegar. Instead, there’s a softer zing from lots of fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon zest. Add to that the buttery crunch of Marcona almonds and it’s all just heavenly! Since this was the most involved of my platter’s elements, I’ve included my steps below.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1-2 tsp red pepper flake
- 1/3 cup Marcona almonds
- 1/2 lb mixed olives (pitted or not, it’s all okay)
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 1 quart casserole dish combine all the ingredients– just get in there with your hands and mix ’em up. Bake for 20 minutes and serve. (Told you it was easy!)