Appetizers, antipasti in Italian, are appetizingly fun!! According to Webster’s Dictionary, an appetizer is a small portion of food or drink to stimulate the appetite before a meal. This chef oftentimes serves for her guests only drinks and lots of tidbits to satisfy the appetite and soak up the alcohol.
As you probably already know, my choices come from both Sicily and the US because it wouldn’t be a Sandi party without a little bit of each. There is no standing tradition for the Sicilian antipasto because early Sicilians were poor and were lucky to get food on the table let alone, little finger foods to whet the appetite.
Centuries ago, the rich barons’ and noblemen’s chefs did not plan food to be served before the meal. However, if the meal was late, the chef would quickly prepare a table with toasted bread, olive oil, olives and anchovies so as not to anger the nobles.
Antipasti vs. Appetizers
Modern day Sicilians have a purpose for everything. Traditionally, they have selected their antipasti for color, flavor, and texture. If there is a meal to come after, the antipasti must complement the upcoming feast.
Presentation is everything — the colors, the plating, the attention to detail in the preparation alerts guests that it is a time for enjoyment and gratification.
In America, we serve appetizers on game days and sneak them for midnight snacks. People gather to watch sports, catch up with friends and eat.
When folks come to dinner, do you serve an appetizer? I generally serve something little like cheese and crackers. I am not sure that its role in the meal is as special as our Italian party goers.
1. Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp cocktail is cooked shrimp served in a martini glass with cocktail sauce. You will especially like this appetizer because it is so easy, elegant, and tasty.
Origins: Las Vegas, Nevada USA
From the Food Network
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. horseradish
Worcestershire sauce to taste
tabasco sauce to taste
Note: You can purchase shrimp that is already peeled and deveined. If you want to save some money, do it yourself. This video shows you how.
Peel and devein shrimp:
Directions for Cocktail Sauce
1. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, horseradish, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a squirt of lemon and a dash of tabasco sauce.
2. Chill for at least 1/2 hour and serve.
2. Cantaloupe and Mozzarella with Prosciutto and Basil
This is a great summer antipasto. Guests will appreciate the combination of flavors. The colors look so appetizing on a plate, pink, white, and orange.
From Martha Stewart
1 cantaloupe, halved and seeded
3/4 lb. small mozzarella balls
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- With a large melon baller scoop melon flesh into a large bowl (or cut into bite-size pieces).
- Add mozzarella, oil, and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Arrange prosciutto along edges of a large serving platter.
- Stir basil into the melon mixture, transfer to the center of a platter, and serve.
3. Deviled Eggs
This appetizer is extremely popular in the US. It consists of hard-boiled eggs that have been shelled and halved and their boiled yokes removed and mixed with condiments.
From Genius Kitchen
3 large eggs hard-boiled
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 dash pepper
- Boil eggs for about 6 – 8 minutes.
- Let eggs cool and then peel.
- Using a sharp knife, cut eggs lengthwise in half.
- Remove egg yolks and place them into a mixing bowl.
- Using a fork, mash egg yolks together. Add mayo, mustard and pepper to the mashed egg yolks.
4. Artichoke Bruschetta
If you like artichoke, you’ll fall for this dish. It is a taste of Sicily in each bite. You can actually mix it up and add different ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes. It is delicious.
Taste of Home
1 jar (6-1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 loaf French baguette (101/2 oz.)
- In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut baguette into 30 slices; top with artichoke mixture.
- Place on ungreased baking sheets.
- Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 3-4 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
5. Oysters Rockefeller
This dish consists of oysters served in a half-shell with various ingredients mixed in.
Origin: New Orleans, LA
2 slices bacon
24 unopened, fresh, live medium oysters
1 ½ cups cooked spinach
⅓ cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon anise flavored liqueur
4 cups kosher salt (to place in pan under oysters to bake or broil)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
3. Clean oysters and place in a large stockpot. Pour in enough water to cover oysters; bring the water and oysters to a boil.
4. Remove from heat and drain and cool oysters. When cooled break the top shell off of each oyster.
5.Using a food processor, chop the bacon, spinach, bread crumbs, green onions, and parsley.
6. Add the salt, hot sauce, olive oil and anise-flavored liqueur and process until finely chopped but not pureed, about 10 seconds.
7. Arrange the oysters in their half shells on a pan with kosher salt.
8. Spoon some of the spinach mixture on each oyster.
9. Bake 10 minutes until cooked through, then change the oven’s setting to broil and broil until browned on top. Serve hot.
6. Broiled Green Figs with Pancetta
This appetizer is extremely Italian. It is very yummy. The figs pair nicely with the pancetta flavor.
Origin: Venice, Italy
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
6 green figs, halved lengthwise
6 thin slices pancetta, halved
- Preheat broiler. Sprinkle fennel seeds onto cut sides of each fig. Wrap figs with pancetta, overlapping ends.
- Place figs, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Broil until sizzling and pancetta is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Flip, and broil 2 minutes more. Serve warm.
7. Truly Crispy Oven Baked Wings
These wings get their crispiness from a unique cooking method not from frying. To enhance the flavor, serve it with your favorite buffalo sauce. You can find a good recipe for a sauce to complement the appetizer in this article. Read more.
Origin: Buffalo, NY
- Pat wings dry with paper towels;
- Toss wings in baking powder and salt;
- Bake at 250F/120C for 30 minutes, then at 425F/220C for 40 – 50 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
These recipes are tried and true. I love how sometimes the method you use to cook something makes all the difference in the world as to how it comes out.
Now I want to have people over for antipasti. Try the recipes and tell me how you liked them.
Addio Good bye.