September 8, 2010 | about: Antipasto
The word antipasto has been given many translations over the years. I have heard people say it means “before pasta” or “appetizer,” but the real translation comes from separating the two words. The word ‘anti’, translates to ‘before’ and the word ‘pasto’, which means ‘meal’. The antipasto course is a very nice way to start a meal. It can consist of meats and cheeses, grilled vegetables, bruschettas and crostini. Starting your meal off with an antipasto is a great way to let everybody socialize and pick away at some starters while preparing for the next course.
I once worked for a chef that told me one of the wisest things I have ever heard… If you put garbage into the dish, your ending dish will be nothing more than a plate of garbage. That is by far the truest statement when preparing an antipasto. It is always best to use the finest products when assembling your antipasto. I always prefer to utilize local farmers markets for my platters. The difference between a grocery store tomato and a farm stand tomato is night and day.
The better the vegetables, the less preparation you need. A really great zucchini doesnt even need to be cooked. Thinly slice it, add a little olive oil and lemon juice and you have a delicious addition to your antipasto. But an antipasto isn’t just vegetables… there are other components also.
Great salumi are an incredible addition to an antipasto platter. Whether it be mortadella, prosciutto, capicola, etc., a great salumi can really round out an antipasto. I always buy the highest quality salumi, or when possible make them myself, for my platters.
When assembling the antipasto platter, think about what flavors might accompany the others. Something as salty as prosciutto might be better accompanied by a sweeter item like melon where a fatty mortadella craves something a little more pungent, like whole grain mustard. It is always wise to know your product before you start assembling the plates.
There is no reason to be intimidated by an antipasto, it is actually the most welcomed part of the meal. The antipasto doesn’t have to be an assembled platter, it can be as simple as a dish of grilled eggplant, roasted artichokes, a platter of olives or a simple bruschetta. The combinations of items for antipasti are endless, so start exploring Italian food and building your recipe book!