Easy Summer Antipasti

Ahhh.......summer is upon us. Actually, here in Florida, summer has been upon us for quite sometime. Some days it's more like summer is oppressing us with this insane heat and lack of rain. At least we have the pool, the lake, and the beach to keep us cool!

And when the heat gets so unbearable that even water won't cool us off, we can head inside and enjoy a light summer antipasti platter (followed by some not so light lasagna, but I'm ok with that!). This isn't fancy food, this is "relaxed put your elbows on the table and have a good chat with friends" food. And as usual with my food creations, there is no wrong or right, no exact amounts...so take away or add according to your own tastes.

What you'll need:
kalamata olives
olive oil
roasted garlic (cut off the top of a bulb, put in a foil pouch with the top open, drizzle with olive oil and roast on 400 until it is soft)
1 raw garlic clove cut in half
giardiniera mix (in pickle section of most grocery stores)
good quality imported parmigiano-reggiano....yes, I'm a cheese snob when it comes to parm.
pepperoni, sliced
italian sausage that you've seared then stewed in your tomato sauce for your lasagna
loaf of italian, cuban, or french bread
lemon zest and juice of one lemon
3 chopped tomatoes
feta cheese
fresh chopped parsely

Wow......now that I've written all of that out it looks like a lot! But really it's not, I promise. A lot of it is prepped well ahead of time and left to chill in the fridge, so do this the night before for lunch or in the early morning for evening entertaining.

Now about that italian sausage....I say sear (hot pan, cold oil, sausage..sizzle sizzle until it's brown on all sides) it then stew it because that's what I did and it was so succulent and tender and delicious that I actually ate some. And I don't usually care for sausage, I like the flavor that it lends a sauce but I don't like to eat it. But when I tasted a slice of this I was blown away, it was sublime. When you get it out of the sauce, slice it up into rounds, use half of them for your antipasti platter and chop up the rest and throw back into your sauce, you won't regret it.

Now for the bruschetta. Just chop up your tomatoes and add some parsley, a splash of white wine vinegar of you have it, a handful of feta, and some ground black pepper and toss it all around. Stick it in the fridge to let it mingle a bit, yep, it's that easy.

Let's bring the olives to the party. Now Kalamata olives are good alone but they are great when you doctor them up a bit with a marinade. Just mash up some of that roasted garlic with some olive oil and a bit of lemon juice and about a tsp. of lemon zest and add your olives. Let it hang out in the fridge until you are ready for it.

Shred up some of your parmesan and chunk some of it with a fork, set it aside until you are ready to put together the platter.

Just one more prep thing. Slice your bread, do it on the diagonal if you are feeling fancy or just regular slices if you are feeling casual, like me! Then put in a 350 degree oven until the slices are dry. The bread should be fairly crisp but not brown. As soon as you pull it out of the oven rub those slices with the cut side of your raw garlic. It's delicious alone but fantastic piled high with bruschetta or other fun things....like sausage and parmesan!

Whew! That seems like a lot of prep but it doesn't take long at all so don't be afraid to try it! Now you get to do the fun part, put it all together!! I need a much bigger tray than what I have so I had to put my bread and bruschetta mix on a cake plate, you can arrange yours however you want. Just put out all of your items, don't forget the pepperoncini and giardiniera mix! Add a final squeeze of lemon juice to everything except for the meats and bread, add a little lemon zest to the olives and sprinkle shredded parmesan on the sausage. Add the chunked parmesan to the platter too, it's really good stuffed into an olive!


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