RECIPE: Antipasto diverso


A decent Italian meal must start with an antipasto but that doesn't mean just popping cured meats and olives on a plate from packets and jars. This alternative ("diverso") antipasto just takes a tiny little bit more effort but looks far more impressive. There is just a single piece of cooking - 5 minutes tops! The three elements are married up with a universal dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Serves 4, easily multiplied

Parma ham and melon cubes - makes 8
Gala melon, not over ripe, skin and seeds removed.
Few slices of Parma ham

Using a sharp knife, cut long pieces of melon into perfect rectangles, about 2.5cm wide and 2.5cm tall. Wrap these in Parma ham then wrap with cling film and chill for an hour. Remove from the fridge and cut again to form into eight 2.5cm cubes. Remove cling film.

Goat cheese bon bons - makes 8
150g soft (but not the very loose spreadable kind) goats cheese
Bunch of mixed herbs ie, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, mint
Large handful of pistachio nuts, shelled (optional)

Crush the pistachio nuts if using with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin, or chop with a sharp knife. Place onto a flat plate along with the chopped herbs and combine well.

Remove any rind from the goats cheese if any and then crumble into a bowl. Take a teaspoon of the cheese and roll into a neat ball, they should be roughly 15g each.

Roll each ball lightly around the herbs and pistachios, until well coated.

Courgette rolls with lemon ricotta - makes 8
1 large courgette (green or yellow) as fresh and firm as possible
150g Ricotta cheese
Zest of half a lemon
Few sprigs of fresh mint, very finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the courgette lengthways, so you get long thin strips. Choose the best 8 strips. Brush each length lightly on one side with olive oil then place oil side down on a hot griddle pan. Cook until charred on one side only, retaining a nice pattern if you can.

Meanwhile combine the ricotta, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl. Season to taste. 

Laying the courgette strips, charred face down, spread a spoonful of ricotta filling across each one, finishing short of one edge. Trim this edge with sharp knife for presentation. Roll up neatly, finishing with the trimmed edge.

To serve
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Using individual plates or sharing platters, drizzle equal amounts of olive oil and balsamic onto the plate. Arrange the Parma Ham and Melon Cubes, Goat Cheese Bon Bons and Courgette Rolls on top. 





I tested out the OXO Good Grips Herb Mincer in this recipe. Although I normally get on fine with just a knife, the mincer did zap through the chopping in quick time and would be handy for recipes that use a lot of herbs (my ricotta herb ravioli for the whole family? I'm looking at you!). As always the ergonomics of OXO products has been carefully deigned, it was comfortable to hold and I loved the flat nose to push down and pile the herbs with. It also completely opens up so washing is an absolute breeze.

Also thanks to Filippo Berio for supplying the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar - they were ideal for this recipe and great examples of affordable products for everyday. Very impressed with the taste of them both.