In Italy, proper meals start with a little something to whet the appetite. The word ‘antipasto’ means ‘before the meal’ and Italian antipasti recipes include all dishes that can be served as snacks, appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, starters, tapas or meze.
In a normal Italian household antipasti serves two purposes: It ensures that the family will eat plenty of healthy, inexpensive vegetables, before carbohydrates and meat reach the table. And it prevents food waste.
A lot of the antipasti served in restaurants and private homes as part of the popular antipasti misti are vegetables conserved in vinegar or oil, when they are in season. There’s always a jar of something homemade, that can be served without further preparation. With a little skill yesterday’s leftovers can be transformed into a savoury flan, an omelet or a meatball. And there are usually some bread sticks, a salad, seafood or a few slices of salami, ham and similar cold cuts to turn on the X-factor and make a big treat out of some simple ingredients. For me, this combination of common sense with healthy food and great taste is the real wonder of Italian cooking and the reason I keep adding to my catalogue of Italian antipasti recipes.