Last weekend, I found myself craving fast food. No, not from those golden arches or a freckle-faced purveyor of square meat… Rather, I opened up several jars and enjoyed a glorious tradition called antipasto.
Antipasto is the signal for the beginning of the meal in many Italian households and restaurants, but I like to enjoy it as a meal unto itself. It may be a little expensive, compared to my usual meals which my husband and/or I make mostly from scratch, and it may be a little higher in fat, but sometimes that is exactly what I want (dare I say Need? :) ). And it's definitely a better choice for me to maybe eat an extra calamata olive or slice of fresh mozzarella than a large order of fries. I know I always feel good after a meal of quality antipasto…and I certainly can't say the same about that other form of fast food.
Often when we do antipasto for dinner, we will combine all of the components together on a bed of greens. It's important to me to try to use some fresh veggies combined with any marinated ones to keep the fat content in check. I like to throw some legumes or lean canned fish in to enjoy with some salty meat and full-fat cheese. Either way, this is a great example of how our non-diet program can include some awesomely decadent choices. Here are some ideas to build an antipasto salad plate at home (it's also great for picnics!).
- Marinated mushrooms, or fresh roasted mushrooms
- Marinated artichokes
- Olives – Kalamata or Greek, or a tapenade
- Eggplant puree (baba ghanoush)
- Stuffed grape leaves
- Roasted red peppers
- Cherry peppers or hot peppers, i.e. pepperoncini
- Beefsteak or grape tomatoes
- Pickled broccoli or green beans
- Cucumbers or pickles
- Muffaletta or Bruschetta
- Pickled beets
- Romaine, Belgian endive, radicchio, and/or baby spinach
- Sauteed escarole, kale, or rapini
- Proscuitto (one of my most favorite things to mindfully eat)
- Proscuitto and cheese-stuffed peppers
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Fava beans
- Garbanzo (also known as Ceci) beans
- Garlicky white bean dip (basically hummus made using canellini beans instead of garbanzos and no tahini)
- Kippered herring
- Smoked Trout
- Good crusty bread
- Whole grain crackers
- Pasta (plain, cooked; you can toss it with your meats and/or marinated veggies)
With very little prep beyond putting food on plates, antipasto can be a quick and satisfying meal unto itself, and is perfect for those occasions when all of a sudden, friends are coming over for dinner. What would you include on your antipast' plate?