TIP OF THE DAY: “Leftovers” Antipasto Plate | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures TIP OF THE DAY: “Leftovers” Antipasto Plate | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: “Leftovers” Antipasto Plate

We can’t wait to get to Seattle to eat at Chef Ethan Stowell’s restaurants. Until then, we visit the websites and drool over the food photos.

And we get ideas. After spotting this asparagus antipasto plate, we thought of different approaches to antipasto.

Antipasto means “before the meal” in Italian—meaning before the main meal. It’s the traditional first course of multicourse Italian dinner.

Most of us have had one along the way. The contents vary greatly by region, but Italian restaurants in the U.S. often have cured meats, marinated artichoke hearts, mozzarella or provolone, olives, peperoncini and pickled vegetables (giardiniera).

Our mother’s typical antipasto consisted of artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, Genoa salami, giardiniera, a slice of cantaloupe in season wrapped with prosciutto, olives and our childhood favorite, BQ brand sesame breadsticks.

But back to Ethan Stowell and his team of chefs:


An asparagus-based “antipasto.” Photo courtesy Ethan Stowell Restaurants.

His asparagus plate inspired us to create a “whatever” antipasto with foods we had on hand—which happened to include leftover steamed asparagus. We tossed them in a vinaigrette, and placed them on individual plates with:

  • Cheese (we had truffle cheese)
  • Croutons (thin slices of toasted baguette)
  • Dried figs (wish we’d had fresh figs!)
  • Mixed olives
  • Pâté (two varieties, thanks to a sample shipment from Les Trois Petits Cochons)
  • Pickled red onions (made in an hour with this recipe)
  • Sweet gherkins
    The tasty result seemed like a lot of thought and effort went into it. But really, we just went through the fridge and added a dab or this and that. Don’t hesitate to combine anything with anything else.


    Assorted Greek mezze. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

    Different but similar: Here’s the scoop on these popular foods:.

  • Amuse-bouche (pronounced ah-MEEZ boosh) is French for “amusing the mouth.” It’s an hors d’oeuvre-size portion plated in a tiny dish, sent as a gift from the chef after the order has been placed but before the food arrives. It is brought after the wine is poured. It is just one bite: A larger portion would constitute an appetizer. Amuses-bouches tend to be complex in both flavors and garniture, and enable the chef to show creativity.
  • Antipasto is a first course of assorted foods, served at the table (some restaurants have antipasto buffets).
  • Appetizer, a first course lately referred to as a starter in fashionable venues, is small serving of food served as a first course. It can be the same type of food that could be served as an entrée or a side dish, but in a smaller portion (e.g., a half-size portion of gnocchi). Or it could be something not served as a main dish, such as smoked salmon with capers.
  • Hors d’oeuvre (pronounced or-DERV) are one- or two-bite tidbits served with cocktails. They can be placed on a table for self-service, or passed on trays by the host or a server. Canapés are the original hors d’oeuvre; they’ve been joined in modern times by hot options such as cheese puffs, mini quiches, skewers, baby lamb chops and many other options. Technically, the term refers to small, individual food items that have been prepared by a cook. Thus, a cheese plate is not an hors d’oeuvre, nor is a crudité tray with dip, even though someone has cut the vegetables and made the dip. The term means “[dishes] outside the work [the main meal].” Several pieces can be plated to serve as an appetizer (first course). Martinets note: In French, the term “hors d’oeuvre” is used to indicate both the singular and plural forms; Americans incorrectly write and speak it as “hors d’oeuvres.”
  • Mezze or meze (pronounced MEH-zay) is an assortment of small dishes served to accompany alcoholic drinks or as an appetizer plate before the main dish. In Greece, expect mezedes of feta, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, assorted raw vegetables and dips like taramasalata and tzatziki. Many other options include anchovies and sardines, saganaki (grilled or fried cheese) and roasted red peppers. In the Middle East, you’ll typically find dips (babaganoush, hummus), olives, pickles, tabouleh and other items, from raw vegetables to falafel and sambousek, small meat turnovers. Don’t forget the pita wedges!
  • Tapas (pronounced TOP-us) are appetizers or snacks that comprise a wide variety of popular foods in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold or hot, from cheese and olives to chorizo to a tortilla, meatballs, or fried squid. While originally traditional foods, some tapas bars now serve very sophisticated plates. You can order one or more tapas with a glass of wine, or order a series of plates to create a full meal.

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