Being Southern and German as I am, the whole antipasto thing always confused me as a child. Even as a young adult, I couldn’t imagine why the Italians were anti such a wonderful plate of cured meat and cheeses that they’d invented. And don’t get me started on the whole pasto part of it. Why there was only a single vowel standing between pasta and the variety served on antipasto platters was always beyond me.
Then it occurred to me that not every person in the world speaks American English. In fact, antipasto means before the meal — literally. In the U.S., we refer to it as the appetizer course.
Antipasto was to my wife’s New York/New Jersey family what chips and salsa were to mine here in Texas. The following recipe (her creation) is loosely based on the platter that my mother in-law served to her guests. For example, she used red wine vinegar and olive oil instead of the creamy Italian dressing; and I’m sure she used readily available roasted red peppers instead of diced pimentos. Still, so long as you have all of the elements of a traditional antipasto — cured meats, cheeses and pickled/brined vegetables – you’re good to go.
Antipasto Pasta Salad
1 lb – Tubular or corkscrew-shaped pasta: cooked, drained & rinsed under cold water
3 TB – Creamy Italian dressing
4 oz jar – Diced Pimentos, drained -or- 1/2 cup – Roasted red peppers, chopped
1 can (12 oz) – large black olives
6 oz jar – Marinated artichokes, quartered
1/4 lb – Fresh Mozzarella, 1/2” cubed
1 cup – Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 lb – Thinly sliced (sandwich) pepperoni and/or salami
1/4 lb – Smoked Provolone, sliced thinly
Butter or ‘Spring’ mix lettuce
Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Place 1 slice of cheese between 2 pieces of pepperoni/salami and roll tightly. Slice into thin ‘wheels.’ Set aside.
Toss cooked pasta with creamy Italian dressing (or red wine vinegar and olive oil, if you prefer). Place on large serving platter that’s lined with lettuce. Sprinkle on top the pimentos/peppers, olives, artichokes, tomatoes and Mozzarella. Add meat/cheese wheels. Garnish with a handful of Pepperocinis. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired.