Appetizers,  Eggplant,  Gluten-free,  Vegetarian

Vegetarian Antipasto

According to the Epicurious food dictionary, antipasto literally means the Italian term “before the pasta” and can include an assortment of antipasti such as cheese, smoked meats, olives, fish and marinated veggies.  I did serve this platter before a pasta dinner, but quite frankly, my guests and I, along with a loaf of freshly baked bread, could have dined on just this!   This is great for football party food or easy, light weekend or weekday dining.  It’s both healthy and filling.

This selection was straight up vegetarian.  No cheese, meats or fish.  Slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini, roasted or sautéed bell peppers, eggplant caponata, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and kidney beans.  I marinated the artichoke hearts and kidney beans in a bit of olive oil with dried or fresh oregano or basil, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  I grilled the eggplant and zucchini a few hours earlier as well as preparing the caponata, see below.  Everything was served room temperature, but could also have been served warm. 

For a non vegetarian version, I will include slices of mozzarella cheese with tomatoes (caprese style) or simply marinated mozzarella balls.  Thin slices of prosciutto gently placed on the platter or wrapped around asparagus, breadsticks or melon and an assortment of sliced Italian deli meats.   Marinated shrimp with their tails on for easy picking or a seafood calamari salad.  There truly are so many options to add to this platter and I will post future antipasto platters as I prepare them. 

 For the eggplant caponata, I sautéed one large diced onion and 2 thinly sliced celery ribs until soft.  Add in one large eggplant that has been peeled and cubed (cut up earlier and salted to release bitter juices and not absorb so much oil), one 14oz can diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped green olives and 3 cloves minced garlic.  Allow to simmer until veggies are soft and blended together, about 20 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of capers, 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and about 2 tablespoons of pine nuts (optional).  Simmer to allow vinegar to evaporate and all flavors to marry about 5 additional minutes.  Serve cold or room temperature with a sprinkling of fresh basil.  Caponata will store in the frig up to 3 days.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.

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