Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

Antipasti (the feminine form of the word) or Antipasto (the masculine form of the word is also often used. The Italian equivalent of hor d’ouevres, meaning “before the meal” (anti=before, pasto=meal) literally “before the pasta”, since pasta is traditionally the first main course served in Italian cooking. In Italian cuisine, this typically consists of savory cold foods such as cheeses and raw or marinated vegetables, as well as cold cuts and cured meats such as prosciutto.

Puting together an antipasti platter is not complicated at all, it’s actually the easiest and quite beautiful to display and put together. With just a few ingredients that you may already have at hand in your refrigerator or pantry you can put together an impromptu appetizer for those quick soirees. The photo above is a vegetarian Antipasti platter; this particular dinner party I was catering had some vegetarian guests. What I think makes this particular display beautiful is that I used various sized bowls and styles. This does not need to be expensive either, many of the bowls pictured here, I bought at a local Latin grocery store for only a few dollars, I like the rustic look of the various shapes and textures of the clay ones, metal and ceramic. The more rustic the better!

I made a Tomato Basil Hummus (recipe below) and served it with Pita chips along with some colossal olives, mixed nuts, bread sticks, mini mozzarella balls, marinated artichoke hearts and caper berries. Next time you’re entertaining remember to keep it simple and first and foremost, enjoy yourself!

Tomato Basil Hummus

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
¼ cup of fresh Basil
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp. Sea salt
¼ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper

Add all ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth. If it looks too chunky, add more oil and process again until smooth. Serve with crispy pita chips or crusty bread