Antipasto for Dinner – Healthy Cooking Thursday

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Fast food option is antipasto | Quick fix antipasto for healthy eatingLast 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!).

Veggie-palooza:

  • 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

Protein options:

  • Proscuitto (one of my most favorite things to mindfully eat)
  • Salami
  • Soppressetta
  • Pepperoni
  • Proscuitto and cheese-stuffed peppers
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Gorgonzola
  • Chevre
  • Feta
  • Asiago
  • Romano
  • Parmesan
  • Fava beans
  • Garbanzo (also known as Ceci) beans
  • Hummus
  • Garlicky white bean dip (basically hummus made using canellini beans instead of garbanzos and no tahini)
  • Kippered herring
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Smoked Trout

Starch ideas:

  • 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?

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