Today's post is written by our Dad, a.k.a "The Box"...
As devoted readers of this blog have, no doubt, noticed, Elana has followed in the illustrious footsteps of Marmo and become an accomplished cook and baker…..although Elana’s approach to cooking is occasionally reminiscent of Scipio’s approach to Carthage.
Indeed, even John has mastered a reasonably comprehensive cooking skill set which he is not above using to impress the fluttering moths that frequent the light of his flame.
It will probably come as no surprise that, surrounded as I am by these accomplished foodies, I have had little motivation to develop any cooking skills of note with the exception of scrambled eggs and the world’s best fraudulently homemade New England clam chowder. Rather, I have devoted my talents to consumption.
There is, however, one area in which The Box reigns supreme….the preparation of what is easily the WORLD’S BEST ANTIPASTO.
Okay, I admit that making antipasto is not “cooking”. In rebuttal, I would argue that putting together a good antipasto requires the presentational skills of a food stylist and the abilities of a chef to assemble a collection of diverse food items into a complementary tasting presentation that, in most cases, serves to get the juices flowing for a great meal to follow. That is why, in Italian, “antipasto” means “before the meal.”
A brief confession is in order: The Box has been known to create very large antipasti (note the plural), and to heavily indulge in same, leaving little or no room to partake of the “main course.” This nefarious practice is of particular use when the “main course” consists of an item that I deem unfit for human consumption regardless of how well prepared; i.e., Turkey.
But enough blather. It’s time to get to it.
What You Need:
The beauty of antipasto is that the choices of ingredients can include almost anything. Over the years there have been some ingredients that have come and gone in The Box’s antipasto, but over the last few years a reasonably fixed set of ingredients has evolved.
CeCi Beans….marinated in red wine vinegar and olive oil (fuhgedabout your shi-shi balsamic vinegar).
Artichoke Hearts….not too oily.
Roasted red peppers….make them yourself, forget you ever saw a jar. (Elana's note: Since this is No-Cook Week, we can't endorse making your own roasted peppers. Until next week, when we will show you how).
Olives….your choice (go for a little color). But, your choices must include pitted black olives.
Cheeses….you need at least two, preferably a good sharp provolone (try Vanta) and some fresh mozzarella (smoked mozzarella is a good option – try both).
Genoa salami….get the good stuff! If it’s made on this side of the Atlantic give it to your dog.
Soppresata….again, please, the good stuff. Preferably homemade by a good Italian deli or butcher. Nothing from the deli case in shrink wrap.
Composition & Assembly
This is the whole show people.
First, you need a large platter….round or oval will do. Then follow this assembly formula:
The veggie type things (ceci's, artichokes, roasted peppers, olives) can go in the middle, confined by the fat and salt-free items (salami, soppresata, cheeses). If you wish, you can incorporate a small bowl to hold some items in one place (ceci’s in particular).
Next, go to work on the perimeter.
Roll the Genoa salami into cylinders and stack along the side.
Follow with one of your cheeses. The provolone should be cut in relatively thin rectangles.
Next, go to the soppresata. Try to slice this a bit on the bias so that you get thin oval slices.
Follow with your second cheese as you continue around the perimeter of your platter. However, if you use the mozzarella balls you will have to get creative and may want to “sprinkle” them around your creation.
This is an ITALIAN dish: Figure out how much stuff you need for the number of people coming and multiply by four. If you run out..or even come close..you will be a disgrazia!
The only food article missing in this “recipe” is Uncle Harry’s Chicken Liver. Chicken liver in an antipasto?? That’s right cupcake! But that’s a story for another day.