A few weeks ago, some friends gathered at our house for an Italian potluck dinner. The plan was simple: everyone took one part of the menu and came up with an Italian-type dish. Italian is one of the few cuisines I never cook … but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with some basic appetizers. It turns out that Italian style appetizers are exactly that: basic. The best ones are made with ingredients that are fresh, simple and delicious.
While I’d highly recommend making these in the summer months (when tomatoes and basil will be in season, inexpensive and irresistible), I’ll post them now for your eating pleasure. Just in case you can’t wait til June to get your hands on some brushetta.
My first appetizer was an antipasto plate. This was insanely simple: meats, cheeses, and olives. (I used an aged cheddar, pecorino romano, prosciutto and sopressata.)
And, of course, when you think Italian appetizers, what do you think of?
This is also very easy to make. Prep by turning the oven on to 450 and making sure you have a rack on the very top.
Slice a thin baguette on an angle, about 1/2” thick.
Brush each piece, using a pastry brush, with olive oil and then rub with garlic clove, before laying oil-side down on a cookie tray.
Toast for 5-6 minutes, til golden brown.
Meanwhile, chop up tomatoes (plum or roma work best) and basil. Toss together with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Once the bread comes out of the oven, top it with the tomato mixture.
Then, eat, eat, eat!
Lastly, I had lots of tomatoes and basil leftover, so I did what any cheese-lovin soul would do…. made Caprese salad!
Again, very straightforward. Pile up round slices of tomatoes, with a piece of basil, and a round slice of fresh mozzarella.
Fresh Mozz is a MUST!
Once you pile up the stacks, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Although I’m not really a big tomato fan, I just love the way this salad looks. Isn’t it beautiful?
While these were appetizers, you could certainly make a dinner out of them. Had my friends not shown up with their goodies shortly after I finished assembling these, I think I might have!