I was always confused when we went to the Italian section of Boston, also known as The North End, because some restaurants offered antipasti and some had antipasto. It was very perplexing so I finally got to the bottom of it. Antipasto translates to ‘before the meal,’ the Italian version of appetizers that are not a salad or fried food. Antipasti, which is plural, is just an assortment of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Now, just to clarify what their distant sister, charcuterie, I researched further and it is mostly cured meats and cheeses.
The trick is all about the quality of eat item you serve…it is as simple as that. It’s great to have a lot of options on the board and if you are in a pinch you can get a lot of store bought items at a specialty store.
Also, think long and hard about how you lay-out the board, think of it as a canvass and coordinate all of the colors. Here are the many items you can select from to fill your board, pick what you like but make sure you go heavy on the veggies.
- Mortadella (the real stuff w/ pistachios), ruffled on the platter
- Soppressata, this is a salty meat that is great to mix with whatever cheese you select,
- Prosciutto, sliced paper thin
- Hot Italian Sausages, grilled and sliced
- Salami, sliced paper thin
- Fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese with an aged balsamic vinegar drizzled and finely chopped basil on top
- Parmesan-Reggiano, broken into chunks
- Herbed ricotta: stir together 1 cup of fresh ricotta with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice. 1 tablespoon of finely chopped chives, 1 tablespoon of basil, put in a small bowl to fit on the platter and drizzle olive oil on top
- Grilled zucchini, cut the zucchini in 1/3 inch slices, and grill over high heat, about 4 minutes each side. In a blender puta clove of garlic, 2 sun dried tomatoes, o1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon fo sherry wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon fo thyme leave and incorporate at a high speed, put in a bowl and toss the cooked zucchini
- Grilled mushrooms, take button mushrooms, clean, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with chimichurri rub and grill over medium heat for 6-8 minutes depending on there size, be sure to rotate as they grill, season with salt and pepper, let them cool to room temperature
- Roasted red peppers, we make our own but Whole Foods and some other stores have freshly made peppers, do not use jarred ones
- Sautéd asparagus, drizzle olive oil on a sauté pan that is over medium high heat, season with kosher salt and cook for 5 minutes, remove and toss in a bowl with a mix of lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper and season with more salt if necessary, let cool to room tempertature
- Sun-dried tomatoes, again, the better the quality, the better the taste. I prefer a specialty wine store that sells by weight
- Grilled eggplant, slice in 1/2 in rounds and salt both sites and let sit in a colander to draw some of the water out, brush with garlic or basil infused olive oil, season with pepper, red pepper flakes and dried oregano, grill over medium-high heat, 4 minutes and flip, continue for three minutes, remove and let get to room temperature, sprinkle grated parmesan
- Grilled scallions, lightly brush with olive oil, grill until lightly charred, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roasted red onions, peel the 2 red onions, then cut each one into 8 wedges. Toss in a bowl of whisked mustard, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, a pinch of Cheyenne, olive oil, salt and pepper, roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes than bring to room temperature
- Bread-sticks, the small Italian ones in the specialty section or at a great wine and cheese shop
- Herbed focaccia or whatever is at your local bakery, heat it in tinfoil and drizzle a little fresh olive oil and serve
- Grilled crusty bread, get. hearty loaf at your bakery, slice it and grill it on a preheated and hot grate