OMG! She's posting recipes now.
But in my defense, this is a really GOOD recipe. I was just thinking about it the other day when another person asked me for it yet again.
Here's the thing:
Once I rattle off the ingredient list and what to do, they all make it for their next big family gathering and then come to me and complain that it didn't taste like mine. One person accused me of leaving off one ingredient on the list so it wouldn't purposely taste like mine.
Yes, because I am e-vol that way. I have nothing better to do than run around making sure everyone fails at their antipasta attempt so I can stand back and laugh at them when they are left to eat crow in front of their picky mother-in-law, inebriated uncle and that annoying cousin-in-law, three times removed, who is in constant competition with you.
So without further adieu, here is Maria's Most Awesome Antipasta.
Side Note: If you're a fan of my fiction, (especially my crack fic - no butt jokes please) then you will definitely want to read this and it will make cooking fun! LOL! I can't believe I typed that with a straight face...
I took a standard antipasta recipe about 6 years ago and then perfected it changing some of the ingredients and whatnot.
In listening to my neighbors' complaints about how their salad didn't come out like mine, I came to the sudden realization that it wasn't how they did it, but what they were putting into it.
Of course, it was probably also how but I'm taking this one step at a time.
So, I think I will start by not just listing the ingredients, but telling you what you should look for and what you can substitute. Now remember, this recipe is either meant for a family gathering, or as in my case, dinner is always a family gathering in itself (I feed 8 usually - 7 when Megan is away - but this recipe is served for dinner once a week and it's enough to serve as the entree).
1. Provolone Cheese - Now, the best provolone to pick is a sliced one. 8 oz is all that is needed. You can get a big chunk of it (8 oz once again - more than that and there is too much cheese) and then cube it (tiny cubes please!) but I find the thinly sliced cheese and then further cubed by me works far better as it soaks up the dressing and accents the salad rather than being an overbearing ingredient and a cube of tasteless cheese in your mouth.
You may substitute Havarti cheese, even Muenster, or if you are so inclined, Pepper Jack. Swiss? No. A world of no. And if you use a processed cheese, I will never speak to you again.
Real cheese is your friend. Processed cheese is your trashy next door neighbor who wears the overly tight capri pants and still uses Aqua Net to hold her hair together while not letting you get in a word edgewise because she's so busy hacking up a lung on her 25th cigarette of the day.
2. Olives - One standard 15 oz can of medium pitted black pearl olives (drained of course) is sufficient. Don't get fancy with the olives. Too big and once again, they won't soak up the marinade. And although Kalamata olives are tasty all on their own, you don't want that in this salad. It will overwhelm it like second grade math does Paris Hilton.
3. Pepperoni - 4 - 8 oz of pepperoni is perfect for this recipe. And you should buy the thinly sliced, slightly larger in diameter as it will once again soak up the marinade better (do you sense a trend here?). You should halve the pepperoni before putting into the salad.
Salami works but it's a bit too greasy for my taste. Hot Capocolla is great and could be substituted. Prosciutto is a great Italian dry meat also but wouldn't work well in this recipe. Mortadella? No. Just no.
And if you use bologna, as in #1, I will not speak to you ever again. Bologna is that trashy neighbor's crude brother who leers at you while he scratches his ass and brags about how he managed to stay out of prison for a good whole five months.
4. Pepperoncini - You can add as many of these as you like or as little. They are there to add bite to the salad. But make sure you cut them into thin rings. And you should use the greek ones. So if they're not wearing a toga and singing the theme to Animal House, they probably aren't greek. Banana peppers and pepper rings are a bit too mild and don't have the bite the greek ones do. Just make sure you cut the pepper into thin rings.
5. Artichoke Hearts - Ah, now here is the heart of the salad. Get it? Heart? Okay, it was a lame joke but hey, it really is. The heart of the salad that is. You should only buy the kind that comes in jars, not cans. You can either get the huge jar from Costco and use half or you can get 2 14 oz jars form the market. The best brand is Cara Mia. Yes, just like what Gomez says in Addams Family to Morticia right before they go at it. So when shopping, think Gomez and then Cara Mia and head for the produce isle. Of course that leaves you saying 'Cara Mia,' in a bad Latin accent and makes you look like an idiot so just write the stupid word down.
You should cut the halved artichoke hearts into halves again. The smaller they are in your salad, the better, now is the class listening? The better they soak up the marinade.
6. Cherry Tomatoes - Cherry tomatoes really are the best pick for this salad. You should buy 2 mesh bags and then halve each tomato.
You can use the new cherub tomatoes out there, but halving them might take a bit of time. Putting them in whole doesn't work.
So go ahead and use cherry or cherub, but make sure you halve them. I think you know why now and if you don't, I'm sending the brother from #3 over to your house with a telephoto lens and 2 six packs of Bud.
7. Mushrooms - Okay, now, I could make the standard cliche remarks about 'shrooms but I won't insult you that way. Besides, I did with the trashy neighbor from #1 and her brother from #3 and they thought it was hilarious, so you see? I won't go there. If you want to save time, you can buy sliced mushrooms (2 8 oz baskets) but if you want to save money, just buy the whole (a 1 pound bag) and then slice them or quarter them.
So now that you've filled your massive bowl with all the ingredients, it's time to make the marinade and mix it all together.
So sprinkle on about 1 tablespoon each of Oregano and Basil and 1 teaspoon of Fennel Seed. I tend to use more but I use these spices so frequently that my family and I are used to them. More than this may be too much if you are not used to using these spices.
Then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Now this may be where everyone's recipe veers off from mine for all I know. I don't use iodized table salt. I use a Celtic Sea Salt that I have to buy and crush with a mortar and pestle. (After using that for a few years, you'll find it difficult to go back to table salt). But your salt should be fine. I also use a coarsely ground pepper but your normal pepper should be okay as well.
Once that is done, you should pour about a 1/2 to 2/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil along with about 1/3 cup of Red Wine Vinegar over the ingredients.
You can use a less pure olive oil and seriously, how can something be extra virgin anything. I mean you either lost it to Big Joey in the back of his pick up truck on Prom night or you didn't but anyway, I prefer the extra virgin because it really is better.
Red Wine vinegar kicks all the other vinegars' asses any day of the week.
Mix all the ingredients with the spices and dressing thoroughly. You can place this in the refrigerator for up to one day. After that, you're pushing it.
Just before serving, mix the salad with the equivalent of 2 Fresh Express bags of Romaine Lettuce. I'm not exactly sure how many heads of lettuce this would be, because I find the bags just so much better to use. Yes, they are more expensive, but there is 100% usage so you can't really go wrong. Just make sure you chop the lettuce before mixing it into your salad.
And there you go. You now know the secrets of my infamous salad.
Go ahead and try it. If you don't wish to make so much, just cut the recipe in half.
Hope you enjoyed this little foray into my kitchen. (God! You guys left such a mess! You're worse than Joe who uses every pot and pan for making jello). As I said before, I spent a while perfecting the recipe (and yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a life).
If you're all nice and leave me a comment if you try it at home, or leave me a comment anyway for just wasting your time on a Friday night, I might let you in on my secret for the best garlic bread in the world next week. :P