According to the Food Dictionary, Antipasto is defined as "a course of appetizers in an Italian meal which may include cured meats, cheese, fish and raw or marinated vegetables."
This description is the least that can be said, a full description would take up too much space and most likely fill the pages of a book. Literally the word translates as “before the meal” or as another source puts it "food before food." No surprise that Italians can actually have a course of food before the meal!
Antipasto choices can be endless and range from something decadent and elaborate leaving no room for the next three courses to something truly simple and delicious that whets the appetite for better things to come.
Sometimes we get carried away in the preparation of a good antipasto and it can become a meal in itself. On the other hand, just this past weekend I enjoyed an antipasto dish at my sister’s house that was too simple to be that good and I vowed to make it for my next special dinner event.
I will share a few selections from a vast repertoire of favourites though by no means giving this “food before food” course total justice or even beginning to address the possibilities.
Previous posts on Zucchini Crostini and Seafood Salad are some choices that make excellent additions to a good antipasto spread.
Since just about anything tastes good on a piece of toasted bread and still having peppers on the mind, Roasted Pepper and Black Olive Crostini seemed to be a good place to begin.
Don’t let the steps involved in preparing the roasted peppers overwhelm you and keep you from enjoying this recipe. The steps to roasting the peppers can be skipped altogether with a quick trip to the grocery store and purchase of a jar of fire roasted red peppers. I haven’t tried them myself (yet) but they look good enough to use in a pinch if the need arises.
Roasting the Peppers
Red, or a mix of red, yellow and orange Bell Peppers
- Wash and dry peppers well.
- Heat barbeque to high setting (may also be roasted in the oven on broil)
- Grill, turning peppers as they become charred. (black is okay as you will be peeling the skin away)
- Once all sides have been charred, remove and place in a glass bowl.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap (this allows the peppers to sweat making removal of skin very easy.)
- When cool, remove and discard skin and seeds.
Roasted Pepper and Black Olive Crostini
olive oil salt and pepper to taste.
black dry cured olives (pitted if possible or you will have to pit them)
peeled garlic clove cut in half to expose juices.
- Slice bread diagonally into one inch slices (diagonal cut gives more surface area for topping.)
- Brush each slice with olive oil and a little oregano.
- Rub garlic clove over bread.
- Grill bread in panini press or broil in oven until toasted.
- Slice cleaned peppers lengthwise into thin strips then chop crosswise making small pieces.
- Place in a bowl and add salt, pepper and just enough olive oil to coat peppers.
- Coarsely chop black olives and mix into pepper mixture.
- Place spoonfuls of peppers onto prepared bread slices and serve.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
- If you absolutely love garlic and don’t mind eating pieces of it, finely chop and add to peppers instead of rubbing clove on bread.
- Roasted peppers can be served as a side dish, prepare as above but do not chop, omit the olives and add a few capers.
- After roasting and cleaning, peppers they may be frozen successfully.
- Keep in mind that if cured, salted olives are used you may need to adjust the amount of salt used to season.
- Place topping on bread close to serving time to prevent bread from getting soggy.