Some time ago we decided to take the boys out to dinner and a movie. We wanted really good food and had some time to kill before the movie. So... we pretended the kiddos didn't have on jeans and their hoodies and enjoyed a nice meal at Bistro Bella Vita in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
We started with a few appetizers that included an amazing antipasti tray. The kids really did love trying all the flavors and textures brought to us. There were so many combinations to try.
This week, as I put together a rustic- but elegant reception menu, I will endeavor to replicate the flavors and textures of this amazing display of Italian meats, cheeses and vegetables.
When I put together a display of meats, cheese, vegetables, crackers, spreads and breads, I try to use flavors that will complement each other and satisfy a variety of guests. Here are some tips.
- It should have a range of meat items representing the various styles of preparation from cooked to dry-cured.
- The meats should be complemented by something acidic, like marinated olives, or pickled onions.
- when choosing cheese, pick a soft and a hard variety
- mustard makes a nice accompaniment, as do spreads and jams.
- Allow two ounces per person, and serve with a rustic bread or good crackers.
- A hearty red wine (but not too heavy) will make a good accompaniment, as would a Riesling or Pinot Grigio.
- I typically use a large cutting board to display the selections. No extra dishes necessary. Everything right on the board.
1. Marinated Olives
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups cracked green olives
- 1 1/2 cups kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Stir the oil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a heavy small skillet over medium heat just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the olives and toss to coat. Pulse in2-3 times in Cuisinart or smash with a fork. Serve with grilled crusty bread.
2. Broccoli stem salad
- 3-4 broccoli stalks, peeled and thinly sliced into dime like pieces
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/12 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. of sugar
- salt and pepper
Toss all ingredients together. Let sit for about 10 minutes for flavors to be absorbed by the broccoli stalks.
3. The Meat
Any combination of the following, THINLY sliced:
softer in texture
- sopressata or other salami
- Aged provolone
- Shaved parmesan or asiago
- Terrine (layered cheese spread)
Crostini: grill thinly sliced sourdough and Italian breads
Add some crispy flatbread or water crackers.
- Finalize it by adding a dollop of grainy mustard to the tray and large leaves of fresh basil.
- Carefully arrange your antipasti board.
- Enjoy experimenting with various flavors and textures complimenting them with other Italian appetizers.....
Beef tenderloin seared to rare then thinly sliced, served with
roasted pepper relish, parmesan, crostinis,
extra virgin olive oil and roasted garlic vinaigrette
Tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, red onion, basil and
balsamic vinegar with parmesan cheese on toasted crostini's