I can have an Italian dish several times a week or sometimes a day. To no-ones surprise its one of the most well loved food world wide. Very impressive for me is the fact that most of the traditional recipes are made from what the (Italian) people had on hand and what had been available around them. That might be one reason why there are as many bolognese recipes as mammas in the kitchen.
When I think about Italian food I see several generations sitting at one table, having the greatest food: pasta with tomato sugo, pieces of all kind of cheese on a wooden cutting board, pancetta and salami, ripe figs and grapes and lots of good red wine. Even a simple everyday supper looks like a family reunion – like a festa.
Last Friday we celebrated our dear friends the Italian way, they are going to have a baby! No I am not letting the cat out of the bag and disclose anyones names and NO mum it’s not me. The last couple of months had been hard for them, I had been from speechless, shocked and teared up too often about what happened to them. The baby news feels like a twist of fate and it was about time.
We celebrated our friends with an Italian dinner and started with antipasti because antipasti means “before the meal” and it’s the best way to start. And then to stop because we had too much of our starter that we had to skip the rest of the dinner.
I made a foccacia similar to this recipe but I put half of the dough into my freezer for later use. I roasted the veggies I found in my refrigerator (recipe below), I also found some great olives and marinated artichokes. I recommend to buy the good stuff for this, don’t use canned olives they are just not doing it. That was what I had on hand and of course good red wine wasn’t missing. Our table was colorful with rustic simplicity, good talks and a lot of laughter, we celebrated the Italian way!
antipasti – marinated vegetables Italian style
You can add one small eggplant or substitute with many kinds of veggies. Don’t skip the dressing, it might be a little tart at the beginning but just blend in the other flavors after some resting time. Don’t forget to serve this antipasto with bread. Makes a great side dish for grilled meat.
2 small or 1 large zucchini
1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 spring fresh thyme
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
fresh ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 210 C / 410 F, place the rack in middle and line a baking sheet.
Clean the veggies and remove everything you don’t need like the white seeds in the bell pepper. Cut the veggies, keep in mind to cut the faster cooking ones a little larger than the slowly cooking ones, so they will be done all on the same time, for example keep the zucchini chunks a little bigger than the red pepper chunks. If you like to just quarter the red bell pepper and keep the whole mushrooms, that’s fine with me but remember to adjust the cooking time. I like to have them a little bigger than bite size.
For the marinade put the olive oil, garlic, salt, sugar, rosemary and thyme in a bowl and mix well. Add the veggies and if you have a lid for your bowl put it on and shake, if not just stir carefully until everything is well coated, add a little olive oil if you need. Put in a single layer on your baking sheet and cook in your oven for 15 minutes than turn the veggies and cook for another 15 minutes.
In the meantime prepare the dressing: pour olive oil and lime juice into a bowl (I always use the same bowl like I used before and I didn’t even clean it in between) and add the hot veggies as soon they are done. Let rest for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper before serving.