In Italy, unless it is a special occasion, homecooked meals rarely start with an antipasto, though restaurant meals often do. Antipasto dishes also vary a lot by region. In the north, especially in the Piedmont, a long succession of antipasto dishes are served one at a time at formal dinners. The classic antipasto in Tuscany is crostini (toasted bread) with chicken livers and a few slices of salami such as finocchiona, a regional specialty made with ground pork and flavored with fennel seeds. In southern Italy, antipasti are simpler, often just a few slices of dried sausage or prosciutto, pickled vegetables, and olives.
When I have company, I often serve an antipasto. Olives, sliced salumi (a collective word for cold cuts), and cut up raw vegetables are the easiest antipasto, and a nice way to welcome guests as they gather. More elaborate dishes can serve as a first course, and a group of antipasti can form the basis for a buffet meal.
Antipasto dishes can be served hot, room temperature, or cold. With the exception of dried sausages and cured meats like salame, prosciutto, or mortadella, meat is used sparingly, usually ground or chopped as a vegetable stuffing. Though shellfish is often offered as an antipasto, whole fish is usually not, except for tiny fish such as anchovies or whitebait.
Many other dishes throughout this book can be served as antipasti. From the vegetable chapters, fried artichokes or cauliflower, any of the stuffed or grilled vegetables, and salads are always good choices. Many of the sautéed vegetable dishes are good as starters, served warm or at room temperature.
Slices of focaccia or olive- or cheese-flavored breads are good companions for vegetable antipasti. Pasta salads are rarely seen in Italy, but Italians do serve rice salads frequently as part of an antipasto assortment. Cold seafood salads are popular, as are stuffed shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and oysters.
An Antipasto Platter
CHEESE ANTIPASTI recipes
Goat Cheese with Herbs
Goat Cheese, Valle d'Aosta Style
Warm Ricotta in Fresh Tomato Sauce
Provolone in Pizza Sauce
Grilled Cheese and Prosciutto Skewers
Montasio Cheese Crisps
Melted Cheese, Silversmith's Style
Mozzarella in a Carriage
Roman Skewered Mozzarella Sandwiches
Walnut Cheese Wafers
Black Olives with Citrus
Spicy Olives in the Pan
Mushroom Pâté of the Two Sicilies
Mushrooms Stuffeed with Mozzarella and Prosciutto
Roasted Pepper Rolls
Asparagus and Egg Salad
Roasted Radicchio with Mozzarella and Anchovies
Figs and Melon with Prosciutto
Asparagus and Prosciutto Rolls
Roasted Figs in Prosciutto
Chicken and Olive Pâté
Scallops al Gratin
Baked Scallops with Marsala and Almonds
Salt Cod Puree
DIPS AND SPREADS
Olive Oil Dip
Poor Man's Caviar
Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
Pedmontese Hot Bath
BRUSCHETTA AND CROSTINI
Tomato and Avocado Bruschetta
Beans and Greens Toasts
Chicken Liver Toasts
Zucchini and Cheese Toasts
Eggplant and Tomato Toasts
Little Orange Rice Balls
Telephone-Wire Rice Balls
Sicilian Chickpea Flower Fritters
Fried Sage Leaves
From "1,000 Italian Recipes." Copyright 2004 by Michele Scicolone. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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