50 Antipasti

Start your meal with some of these Italian appetizers.
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Clockwise from top left: Pecorino with Honey (No. 46), Rosemary-Lemon Frico (No. 48), Stuffed Cherry Peppers (No. 3), Ricotta Frittata Squares (No. 50), Arancini (No. 15), Roasted Tomato Crostini with Tuna (No. 11), Speck-Wrapped Melon (No. 27)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Clockwise from top left: Pecorino with Honey (No. 46), Rosemary-Lemon Frico (No. 48), Stuffed Cherry Peppers (No. 3), Ricotta Frittata Squares (No. 50), Arancini (No. 15), Roasted Tomato Crostini with Tuna (No. 11), Speck-Wrapped Melon (No. 27)

1. Marinated Olives Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a small skillet with 3 smashed garlic cloves, 3 wide strips orange zest, 2 bay leaves and 2 rosemary sprigs, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over 2 cups mixed olives. Add 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper; toss. Let stand at least 1 hour or refrigerate up to 1 week.

2. Marinated Mozzarella Toss 2 cups bocconcini with 1 finely chopped sun-dried tomato plus 2 tablespoons oil from the jar, 1 teaspoon each chopped oregano and parsley, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Stuffed Cherry Peppers Make Marinated Mozzarella (No. 2); cut into quarters and wrap a small piece of prosciutto around each. Stuff into jarred cherry peppers (stemmed and seeded).

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Crispy Polenta Bites (No. 4)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Crispy Polenta Bites (No. 4)

4. Crispy Polenta Bites Slice one 18-ounce tube polenta into 1/2-inch rounds. Working in batches, cook the polenta in a nonstick skillet with olive oil, turning occasionally, until crisp and browned, 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with salt. Top with marinara sauce and shaved parmesan.

5. Roasted Red Peppers Broil 4 red bell peppers on a baking sheet, turning, until charred. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool. Peel, quarter and seed the peppers. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 small grated garlic clove; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the peppers and top with torn basil and parsley.

6. Roasted Red Pepper-Anchovy Crostini Make Roasted Red Peppers (No. 5), adding 1 tablespoon capers and 1 teaspoon chopped oregano with the garlic. Serve on toasted sliced ciabatta; top with anchovies.

7. Calabrian Chile Crostini with Sardines Mix 1/2 stick softened butter with 1 tablespoon chopped oil-packed Calabrian chiles. Spread on toasted sliced ciabatta and top with oil-packed sardines.

8. White Bean Bruschetta with Shrimp Whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil with the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 minced anchovy, 1/2 small grated garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon chopped marjoram; season with salt and pepper. Toss with one 15-ounce can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons water; mash. Toss 16 medium shrimp (peeled and deveined) with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the beans on grilled sliced semolina bread; top with the shrimp.

9. Broccoli Rabe Crostini Cook 4 ounces diced pancetta in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels. Add 4 sliced garlic cloves to the drippings; cook 1 minute. Trim, chop and rinse 1 large bunch broccoli rabe; leave damp. Add to the skillet and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook until tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the pancetta. Serve on grilled sliced ciabatta; top with grated ricotta salata.

10. Chicken Liver Crostini Saute 1 minced shallot in 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 8 ounces chicken livers, 1 tablespoon capers, 1 teaspoon each kosher salt, chopped sage and rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup white wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute; cool. Puree with 1/4 cup olive oil. Spread on toasted sliced ciabatta.

11. Roasted Tomato Crostini with Tuna Toss 1 pint cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil, stirring occasionally, until blistered, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Toss with 4 ounces oil-packed Italian tuna (drained and flaked), 1 sliced scallion and 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Serve on toasted sliced Italian bread and top with parsley.

12. Slow-Roasted Tomato Caprese Cut 2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes in half lengthwise; arrange cut-sides up on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; scatter 6 garlic cloves and 6 thyme sprigs on the pan. Bake at 300 degrees F until very soft, 2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Arrange the tomatoes on a plate with 8 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella; season with salt and pepper. Whisk 2 tablespoons pesto with 1 tablespoon olive oil; drizzle over the tomatoes and mozzarella.

13. Beets with Hazelnuts and Gorgonzola Drizzle 4 medium beets with olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast at 400 degrees F until tender, 40 minutes. Cool; peel and cut into chunks. Toss with 1/2 small sliced red onion, 1/4 cup parsley leaves and 2 tablespoons each red wine vinegar and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Top with 1/4 cup each crumbled gorgonzola and chopped toasted hazelnuts.

14. Mini Meatballs Mash 2 slices torn white bread with 1/4 cup milk in a large bowl. Add 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 2 grated garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano, crushed fennel seeds and pepper. Mix with your hands until just combined. Form into 1-inch balls (about 24). Bake on a baking sheet at 450 degrees F until browned, 10 minutes, then simmer in 1 cup each marinara sauce and water, 10 minutes. Top with parsley.

15. Arancini Simmer 1 cup arborio rice in 3 cups chicken broth with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of saffron, stirring, until al dente, about 15 minutes, adding 1 cup frozen peas during the last 5 minutes. Spread on a baking sheet to cool. Mix with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1 egg. Roll into 12 balls. Dredge in flour, dip in lightly beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Working in batches, fry in 2 inches 360 degrees F vegetable oil until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

16. Cacio e Pepe Chickpeas Drain, rinse and pat dry two 15-ounce cans chickpeas. Working in 1-cup batches, fry in 3/4 inch 375 degrees F vegetable oil until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon; toss with salt, coarsely ground pepper and grated pecorino while warm.

17. Fried Butternut Squash and Sage Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour with one 12-ounce can seltzer and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Dredge 2 cups thinly sliced peeled butternut squash (about 1/4 large squash) and 20 sage leaves in flour, then dip in the batter. Working in batches, fry in 1 1/2 inches 350 degrees F vegetable oil until crisp, about 6 minutes for the squash and 1 to 2 minutes for the sage. Drain on paper towels; season with salt. Serve with lemon wedges.

18. Fried Eggplant with Spicy Honey Peel 2 Japanese eggplants and slice crosswise into 3-inch sections, then lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Dredge in flour, dip in lightly beaten egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Working in batches, fry in 2 inches 350 degrees F vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels; season with salt. Mix 1/4 cup warm honey with 1/2 tablespoon minced jarred Calabrian chiles; drizzle over the eggplant.

19. Fried Artichokes Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with one 12-ounce bottle beer and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Drain two 12-ounce jars marinated artichoke quarters and pat dry. Dredge in flour, then dip in the batter. Working in batches, fry in 2 inches 350 degrees F vegetable oil until crisp and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels; season with salt. Serve with lemon wedges.

20. Potato Croquettes Cook 1 1/2 pounds peeled russet potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash with 2 tablespoons each butter and milk; let cool. Mix in 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup grated mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Form into 24 small logs; dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Working in batches, fry in 2 inches 350 degrees F vegetable oil until golden, about 4 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.

21. Salt Cod Potato Croquettes Soak 8 ounces salt cod in water in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Drain and cook in simmering water until the fish flakes easily, about 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels and flake into small pieces. Saute 6 sliced garlic cloves in 1/2 cup olive oil until golden, 5 to 7 minutes; cool. Make Potato Croquettes (No. 20), mashing the potatoes with the cod and garlic oil; do not mix in the eggs, mozzarella or parmesan.

22. Mozzarella in Carrozza Sprinkle shredded low-moisture mozzarella over 4 slices white bread; top each with another slice of bread. Trim the crusts and quarter each into triangles. Dip in 4 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup milk, then dredge in flour. Shallow-fry in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

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Zucchini and Salami Flatbread (No. 23)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Zucchini and Salami Flatbread (No. 23)

23. Zucchini and Salami Flatbread Stretch 1 pound room-temperature pizza dough into an 11-by-15-inch rectangle on an oiled baking sheet. Rub with olive oil and arrange 1 thinly sliced zucchini over the top; season with salt and pepper. Bake at 475 degrees F until browned, 20 minutes. Top with 2 ounces thinly sliced salami (cut into strips) and 1 cup grated provolone. Bake until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Cut into triangles.

24. Fennel Fried Bread Roll 1 pound room-temperature pizza dough into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Cut into 30 rectangles. Working in batches, fry in 1 inch 375 degrees F vegetable oil, turning once, until puffed and golden, 3 minutes. Drain on a rack. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and crushed fennel seeds while warm.

25. Taleggio-Mushroom Panini Bites Saute 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet until browned, 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds. Layer on a split hero roll with 4 ounces sliced taleggio cheese; cook in a panini press. Cut into small pieces.

26. Prosciutto-Wrapped Pizza Sticks Roll 1 pound room-temperature pizza dough into a 12-by-14-inch rectangle on a floured surface; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover; let rise 1 hour in a warm place. Gently press the dough all over with your fingers; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and chopped rosemary. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool. Cut into 12 sticks; wrap each with a slice of prosciutto.

27. Speck-Wrapped Melon Toss twelve 1-inch pieces cantaloupe with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Halve 6 thin slices speck or prosciutto; wrap each around the melon along with a mint leaf.

28. Bresaola-Celery Salad Toss 4 ounces julienned bresaola with 3 cups thinly sliced celery, 1 cup celery leaves, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons each olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

29. Giardiniera Pack 1/2 small head cauliflower (cut into florets), 2 each celery stalks and carrots (sliced into sticks), 1 red bell pepper (sliced into strips), 1 sliced jalapeno, 4 bay leaves and 2 teaspoons fennel seeds into two 1-quart jars. Simmer 2 cups each water and white wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons each sugar and kosher salt until dissolved. Pour over the vegetables. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

30. Italian Deviled Eggs Hard-boil 6 eggs; peel. Cut in half and scoop out the yolks; pulse in a mini food processor with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon each olive oil, capers, fresh basil and parsley, 1 teaspoon each Dijon mustard and lemon juice and a pinch of salt until smooth. Spoon into the egg whites and top with crumbled crisp pancetta.

31. Sicilian Cauliflower Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets; toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 450 degrees F until tender and charred around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Toss with 1/4 cup each golden raisins and chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons capers and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

32. Fava Beans with Pecorino Cook 4 cups frozen fava beans as the label directs. Toss with 6 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons each lemon juice and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper; toss with 1 cup shredded pecorino.

33. Brussels Sprout-Pancetta Skewers Trim and halve 1 pound Brussels sprouts; toss with 2 tablespoons each olive oil and honey, 1 teaspoon each kosher salt and finely chopped rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Thread onto 6-inch skewers, alternating with 6 ounces cubed pancetta. Place on a wire rack set on a baking sheet; bake at 425 degrees F until browned and crisp, about 30 minutes.

34. Roasted Mushrooms with Walnuts Toss 1 pound sliced mixed mushrooms with 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 smashed garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon each chopped sage and rosemary on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until browned, 30 minutes. Cool slightly; toss with 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts and 1 tablespoon each walnut oil and balsamic vinegar.

35. Stuffed Mushrooms Remove and finely chop the stems of 24 white mushrooms. Brown and crumble 8 ounces Italian sausage in a skillet with olive oil. Add the mushroom stems and 2 chopped garlic cloves; cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool. Stir in 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and parmesan and 2 tablespoons olive oil; stuff into the mushroom caps. Bake in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish at 425 degrees F until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is crisp, 20 minutes.

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Stuffed Clams (No. 36)

Photo by: Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Stuffed Clams (No. 36)

36. Stuffed Clams Combine 1 cup panko, 1/4 cup each parmesan, chopped parsley, scallions and red bell pepper, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spoon into 2 dozen littleneck clams on the half shell and dot with butter. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F until crisp and golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

37. Blood Orange Mussels Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add 1 small sliced red onion, 1 sliced Fresno chile and 2 smashed garlic cloves and cook until the onion starts to soften, 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup each white wine and blood orange juice, a pinch of saffron and 2 pounds mussels (scrubbed and debearded). Cover and cook until the mussels open, 3 to 4 minutes. (Discard any unopened mussels.)

38. Fritto Misto Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup semolina flour and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl; add 8 ounces medium shrimp (peeled and deveined) and toss to coat. Remove and fry in 2 inches 375 degrees F vegetable oil until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss 8 ounces calamari rings and tentacles in the flour mixture and fry until crisp and golden, 2 minutes; drain. Toss 12 white anchovies in the remaining flour mixture and fry until golden, 1 minute; drain. Toss together and season with salt. Serve with lemon wedges.

39. Seafood Salad Bring 1/2 cup white wine to a simmer in a large pot. Add 1 pound mussels (scrubbed and debearded). Cover and cook until the mussels just start to open, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 8 ounces small scallops and 1 pound butterflied medium shrimp. Continue to cook, covered, until the seafood is cooked through and the mussels open, 3 to 4 minutes. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Drain and toss with 2 cups chopped giardiniera, 6 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 cup each chopped parsley, green olives and celery leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

40. Charred Calamari Toss 1 pound cleaned squid (with tentacles) with 1 thickly sliced red onion, 2 large Italian frying peppers (halved and seeded) and 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; weight down with another heavy skillet and cook 2 minutes. Remove the calamari to a cutting board and continue to cook the vegetables, uncovered, until lightly charred and just tender, 3 minutes. Coarsely chop the calamari and vegetables; toss with 2 tablespoons each olive oil and chopped parsley and oregano, and the juice of 1/2 lemon.

41. Grilled Mortadella and Grape Skewers Thread mortadella cubes and seedless grapes on presoaked wooden skewers. Brush with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat, turning, until the mortadella is charred and grapes start to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

42. Caponata Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pot. Add 1 diced eggplant, 1 diced onion and 3 garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, until the eggplant is soft and browned, about 15 minutes. Add one 15-ounce can cherry tomatoes and 3 tablespoons each red wine vinegar, capers and dried currants. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped basil.

43. Bagna Cauda Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and cook until golden and softened, 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and 8 anchovies; cook until the anchovies dissolve and the mixture is cloudy, 15 minutes. Serve with vegetables for dipping.

44. Arugula Dip Puree 2 1/2 cups packed arugula, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 small garlic clove, the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Serve with olive oil potato chips.

45. Pear Mostarda Cook 1/2 cup each white wine and sugar, 1/4 cup each white wine vinegar, golden raisins and chopped dried figs, 3 diced peeled Bosc pears, 1 chopped shallot, 2 teaspoons each mustard seeds and fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon each mustard powder and kosher salt in a saucepan over medium heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Cool. Serve on a cheese plate.

46. Pecorino with Honey Break pecorino into small chunks. Arrange on a plate; drizzle with honey and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Serve with toothpicks.

47. Spicy Frico Mix 1 cup shredded parmesan with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Sprinkle into 12 rounds (2 to 3 inches) on 2 baking sheets lined with silicone mats or parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees F until browned and bubbling around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool on the pan.

48. Rosemary-Lemon Frico Make Spicy Frico (No. 47), omitting the cayenne; mix the parmesan with 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

49. Chickpea Fritters Whisk 3 cups water with 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread 1/2 inch thick. Let cool, then cut into squares. Shallow-fry in vegetable oil until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Dollop with ricotta and top with shredded pecorino.

50. Ricotta Frittata Squares Whisk 10 eggs with 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs (basil, parsley, chives and/or mint), 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the egg mixture. Cook until the bottom is set, about 4 minutes. Dollop 1/2 cup fresh ricotta over the top and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees F until just set, about 8 minutes. Cut into squares.

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