Start your meal or party off on Italian footing with antipasto. The word means “before the meal,” and in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley finds roots for the course in medieval Italy, where small samplings of food were available before banquets. Antipasto is meant to pique the interest of the eater, creating anticipation for the meal about to be eaten. This means the options are limited only by the cook’s imagination. From bruschetta to platters of meats and cheeses, you can create the course to be whatever you want. To get your creative cooking juices flowing, here are seven recipes.
1. Bruschetta with Sautéed Mushrooms
Get away from the typical tomato topped bruschetta with the mushroom version created by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos for the Cooking Channel. It yields about four to six servings.
- Italian bread, sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped (recommended: shiitake, portobello, crimini)
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and freshly chopped
- 1 small handful fresh thyme, leaves picked and freshly chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Toast your bread in a toaster or on the grill, or if you are lucky enough to own one, an Italian stovetop toaster. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and another sprinkling olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often. Add the parsley and thyme, cook for another 5 minutes. Serve the mushrooms warm, on top of the bread slices, dress with some extra salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.