As the days grow a bit warmer and longer, I’m starting to think about spring antipasto. Although this Italian favorite — a combination of fresh and marinated vegetables, meats and other delicacies — is often served as an appetizer, for my family it becomes a light dinner option on busy nights.
I usually serve the first antipasto of the season when I receive a call from my dad, who has been carefully nurturing tiny heads of romaine in his garden over a period of weeks. When he calls and says, “The romaine is ready,” it’s time to start planning for antipasto.
Building an antipasto is as individualized as you would like it to be. I begin by layering a platter with freshly washed and dried salad greens and top that with an array of fresh vegetables, including celery, carrots and maybe some sliced radishes. I add olives, a few hard-boiled egg wedges, maybe marinated artichokes, anchovies (strictly optional!), and a bit of provolone cheese and thinly sliced capicola. (Traditionally, antipasti often contain a variety of cheeses and cured meats, but I focus more on lean protein and vegetables.)
A few years ago Better Homes & Gardens published a Special Interest Publication featuring Italian recipes. Its antipasto included prosciutto-wrapped bread sticks and steamed seafood tossed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. I served this version for Christmas, removing as much fat as possible from the prosciutto, and it was delicious.
This year I’d like to add grilled vegetables to my antipasto mix. As you can see, antipasto is limited only by the ingredients you have on hand and your willingness to experiment.