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Good morning molto GUStos!!  I forgot it was already Tuesday so I had to really think about a quick diary.  Well, one quick way to please guests is with a general kind of antipasto.  Cheese, sliced meats, grilled or raw veggies, olives, etc.  Some kind of dressing or dip and you are set to go.  There are, however, a zillion antipasti which can be anything from simple to complex.  It is a marvelous way to start any meal, not just a scrumptious Italian one.

Here's a few ideas and, as always, you can add your own.

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Frito Misto with Fennel and Lemon

Ingredients:

    Vegetable oil, for frying
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups club soda
    12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
    3/4 pound skinless cod fillet, cut into 12 chunks
    1/2 pound squid, tentacles halved and bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings
    1 small fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick
    1 lemon, very thinly sliced, plus lemon wedges for serving
    1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:

    In a large pot, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup of the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. Whisk in the club soda to make a thin batter. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.

    Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour in a bowl. Season the shrimp, cod, squid, fennel and lemon slices with salt and black pepper. Dust with the flour. Dip them in the batter in batches, scraping some of the excess against the side of the bowl, and fry them in batches in the hot oil until lightly golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain the fritto misto on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a large plate, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Eggplant Caponata with Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

    3/4 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    Salt
    2 tablespoons golden raisins
    2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 small onion, finely diced
    1 celery rib, finely diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
    1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 tablespoons chopped pitted green olives
    1/2 tablespoon capers
    1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    Freshly ground pepper
    30 baguette slices, brushed with olive oil and toasted

Directions:

    In a colander, sprinkle the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss; let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the raisins in hot water until softened and plump, about 10 minutes. Drain.

    In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery, cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the red bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until shiny, about 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until it begins to break down, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the drained eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is very tender, about 3 minutes longer.

    Transfer the eggplant to the bowl and add the olives, capers, raisins and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Let the caponata cool to room temperature and serve with the baguette toasts.

Make Ahead The caponata can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled.

I've used the following recipe in one of my nosh diaries, but it is a terrific part of any antipasto.
Fried Baby Artichokes

    20 baby artichokes (about 4 ounces each)
    Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    1/4 cup chopped parsley

    With a small, sharp knife, cut off the artichoke stems. Snap off the leaves until you reach the inner leaves. Cut off the top third of the artichokes and trim any tough parts. Quarter the artichokes lengthwise.

    In a medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of olive oil to 300°. Fry the artichokes in the hot oil in batches until richly browned and crisp, about 2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the artichokes to small plates or a shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley and serve.

Antipasto Salad

    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon minced shallot
    2 tablespoons minced oregano
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    4 ounces sliced provolone cheese, cut into thin strips
    4 ounces thickly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips
    1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped
    1/2 medium head of radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped
    1/2 medium head of frisée, coarsely chopped
    1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
    2 cups baby arugula (2 ounces)

In a bowl, whisk the olive oil with the red wine vinegar. Whisk in the minced shallot and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Add all of the remaining ingredients, toss well and serve.

Mushroom and Fontina Crostini

    Four 1/2-inch-thick slices of peasant bread, halved diagonally
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 pounds white mushrooms
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 medium shallots, finely chopped
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    1 teaspoon chopped thyme
    3 tablespoons water
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    1/4 pound Fontina cheese, coarsely shredded (about 1 cup)
    1 tablespoon chopped parsley

    Preheat the oven to 400°. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toast for 12 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges. Turn the broiler on.

    Meanwhile, thinly slice the mushrooms. In a large skillet, cook the butter over high heat until lightly browned, 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the mushrooms and cook undisturbed until the mushrooms are browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 10 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme, lower the heat to moderate and cook until the shallots are tender, 5 minutes. Add the water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then cook for 3 minutes longer. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

    Spoon the mushroom mixture on the toasts and sprinkle the cheese on top. Broil for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Transfer the crostini to a platter, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Grilled Antipasto with Garlicky Bean Dip

    One 19-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    2 small garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
    1/2 cup chopped basil
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    6 small Italian frying peppers or Cubanelle peppers
    4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
    Two 1-pound eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
    2 dozen anchovy fillets
    2 dozen marinated bocconcini (about 3/4 pound)
    2 large beefsteak tomatoes (1 pound each), sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
    Grilled country bread, for serving

    In a food processor, combine the beans with the garlic, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process until smooth, then scrape into a bowl. Fold in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

    Light a grill. Brush the peppers and the zucchini and eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap an anchovy fillet around each of the bocconcini and thread the balls onto six 8-inch skewers.

    Grill the peppers and the sliced zucchini and eggplants over a medium-hot fire until lightly charred and tender, about 2 minutes per side for the zucchini and 4 minutes per side for the peppers and eggplant. Transfer to a large platter and spread the bean dip on the zucchini and eggplant slices.

    Lightly brush the tomato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the tomatoes to the platter. Lightly oil the grate. Grill the skewered bocconcini for 1 minute, turning once, or just until beginning to melt; transfer the skewers to the platter. Serve the antipasto with the remaining white bean dip and the grilled bread.

Make Ahead The white bean dip can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Standard Antipasto

Ingredients

    1 pound bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese)
    1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
    Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    1 cup roasted red peppers, drained
    1 small clove garlic, thinly sliced
    2 large heads radicchio di Treviso, separated into leaves
    8 fresh figs, halved lengthwise
    2 cups artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
    1 pound Pecorino cheese, cubed
    1 pound provolone cheese, cubed
    3/4 pound air-dried sopressata, thinly sliced
    3/4 pound refrigerator-dried sopressata, thinly sliced
    1 1/2 cups pepperoncini, drained
    1 1/2 cups mixed olives, drained
    1 1/2 cups peppadew peppers
    3/4 pounds salami, thinly sliced
    3/4 pounds prosciutto, very thinly sliced
    Breadsticks, for serving

Directions

    In a medium bowl, combine bocconcini, olive oil, parsley, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine roasted red peppers and garlic; set aside.

    Line a large platter with radicchio leaves. Arrange ingredients, with the exception of the breadsticks, on a platter in a decorative pattern. Serve with breadsticks.

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