Antipasti: art and a tradition to begin a meal

Antipasti: art and a tradition to begin a meal

Antipasti – “Anti” means before and “pasti” means meal.

By BRENDA CAVALLARIO
Executive Chef & Owner, Cavallario’s Cucina

The love of food, family and friends are words that boast of the importance and value that is placed upon time spent together and meals shared around the table, perhaps the basis of which many an Italian tradition has been founded.

Across Italy, from the northern regions of Trento and Venice to the southernmost regions of Sicily and Calabria, antipasti plays an important role of setting the stage of the dining table. It is an artful presentation that adorns contrasting colors, textures and flavors of food items that appeal to the eye and palette.

Selections are made to complement one another and the meal that lies ahead, inviting those to unwind from their day and enjoy conversation with family and friends.

Platters for sharing are simply put together with items such as dried cured meats, marinated, pickled and grilled veggies, olives, hard & semi-soft cheeses, select shellfish and more — a true nibbling buffet.

Our family prefers dried meats, cheese, pickled and marinated veggies, olives and an occasional hot pepper selection, either pickled or stuffed. When the season allows we incorporate locally grown veggies that are kept in their purest form, such as sliced heirloom tomatoes, garden fresh basil and fresh mozzarella dressed with fragrant olive oil, ground pink pepper and coarse sea salts.

The following suggestions complement one another:

Dried meat: Salami, soppesettia, prosciutto, coppa ham

Cheese: Parmigianino, asiago, aged provolone, pecorino Romano, brined mozzarella

Olives: Black, red, green, pitted, unpitted, stuffed, cured, brined, calamata. Can you tell olives are a must?

Pickled veggies: Beets, half-hots, cauliflower

Marinated veggies: Mushrooms, sweet peppers, artichoke hearts

Roasted veggies: Sweet Peppers, Eggplant, Zucchini

Just remember “color-flavor-texture“ and you will be on the road to serving your family & friends a little bit of “Antipasti Italiano” around your dinner table at night. Mangia ~ Mangia!

This article first appeared in the January 2012 issue of NNY Business magazine.
Copyright 2010-2012, Northern New York Newspaper Corp., All rights reserved.
Used with permission. NNY Business, January 2012