One of our long-held traditions is to make antipasto during the Christmas season. I rarely (if ever) make it any other time of the year, but I usually make it twice or more during Christmas. This year, I made one for lunch on Christmas day and another, the next day, as an appetizer. All my ingredients came from Costco and Trader Joe's. There are as many ways to make this as there are cooks in kitchens on any given day. And it never comes out the same here. When I shop, I always get the following:
marinated artichoke hearts
marinated roasted peppers
tapenade or a roasted eggplant spread
I also buy marinated button mushrooms. And I'm sure I put them in my cart this time. However, my shopping companion does not like mushrooms and they mysteriously were absent when I unloaded at home. Ahem.
You can add all sorts of things: any marinated vegetable salad, balls of fresh mozarella, green olives, marinated sun dried tomatoes. It's fun to look for little treasures in your store. Well, usually it's fun. When we lived in the deep south it was kind of frustrating. There was not really an abundance of Italian delis in South Carolina.
Every year, one or more of my children begs to make the antipasto. And I never let them. It's my secret anti-anxiety therapy. If I'm stressed about a party or a certain guest, I head to the kitchen and cook something that requires some creative thought. Calms me every time. This particular party food? The ultimate creative fun in the kitchen. Just play with the food; there's no right or wrong.
I start with a layer of cheese on an oval platter. I'm not sure why it's an oval platter, but I think it might be the only rule. As I build, the marinades from the vegetables will season the cheese, too.
Then salami folded into little flowers. It's nice to build some dimension.
If you pinch the little flowers at the point, the fat in the salami holds the flower in its shape. I didn't say I eat it. I just like making it.
This roll was new at Costco this year and it fit right in. Often, I buy little balls of fresh mozarella and marinate them. But this is prosciuttio and basil wrapped around fresh mozarella. I sliced it. It was a big hit so I hope we see it in Costco next year, too. Maybe, maybe not. We'll just go with the flow. Remember: there's no wrong way to do this.
The meats I bought at Costco this year had salami and capocollo and sopressata in the same package, so I rolled some meat as well as making flowers.
Then, I added color-- marinated yellow and red peppers sliced into thin strips. After this is all made, I never eat the meat and cheese, but I'm all about the vegetables. We have cousins who won't touch the veggies but make a full meal of the meat and cheese. There's something for everyone and there is rarely anything left over at the end of the day.
I love the peppers. I use an entire jar for each antipasto and usually wish I had more.
Tuck an olive inside each of those flowers and scatter some more around the perimeter. There are never leftover olives.
Tapenade in the center. Mary Beth loves green olive tapenade. I'm fairly certain it's hers alone.
Marinated artichoke hearts wherever I can put them. My sister and I used to fight over who got to eat those.
And it's never the same twice.
Here is the one I did the next day. I think this might be my favorite one ever.
Until next year.