The Italian tradition of antipasto is one that suits adaptation to New Zealand food!
What is antipasto?
Italian courses often get confused – especially in less-than-authentic faux-ristoranti in Kiwi-land! The confusion comes because Italians have two main courses in place of our single one (the primo is generally carbs and the secondo is generally protein). Antipasto (or gli antipasti in plural) comes before these two courses – it is equivalent to our starter, but very different in content.
Rather than a light tease to the appetite, the antipasto can be substantial and are often the house speciality on which restaurants build their names. The showcase local delicacies. Cheeses, cured meats and pickles are classic ingredients, but there can also be omelette squares and fried and baked tidbits brought to your table. Legumes prepared according to local tradition were a common component where I lived in central Italy (such as fagiolata)
Because of the sumptuousness of the antipasto, Italians often choose to relax over a slow-nibbled meal with some great red wine – and then skip the other courses entirely.
This makes it the perfect choice for when friends visit!
Antipasto with New Zealand food
Innovative New Zealand foods lend themselves well to this mix-and-match style of eating. A small selection of great cheeses can feel even more special when presented amid a colourful selection of nibbles. Mix up fresh and hard cheeses, like a buffalo mozzarella alongside a blue or a piquant hard cheese. Consider Mediterranean staples such as kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, crusty bread and nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Or go creative with novel fruit pastes, relishes and dips, like home-made hummus (quick to whizz up in the blender!).
Most of the ingredients for antipasto can be stored in the pantry. Whip out a selection when you have guests for an impressive spread!