Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Antipasti! Insalata di Bonito Carciofi with Caponata and Mozzarella Crostini

Spring and summer food the Italian way! 
     Insalata di Bonito Carciofi Recipe:  Mix a little bit of virgin olive oil, a few ripe olives that are cut in half, a few quartered artichoke hearts, a little bit of finely chopped garlic, sea salt, a pinch of black pepper and some flaked cooked bonito filet.  (Bonito is in the tuna family and it does have a slightly stronger flavor.  Simply boil or bake a piece of bonito filet.  Let the bonito cool.  Flake the bonito meat with a fork.)  Toss the ingredients together and chill in a refrigerator. 
     Caponata Recipe:  Saute these ingredients in virgin olive oil gently over medium low heat:  a few cloves of sliced garlic, a little bit of chopped onion and some chopped celery. 
     When the celery is cooked al dente, add some thin sliced eggplant.  (Leave the eggplant skin on.)
     Add sea salt and black pepper. 
     Add some peeled seeded plum tomato filets.  Add a little bit of tomato paste and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir and gently reduce the caponata.  The caponata should be rich and dark colored with the thick sauce clinging to the vegetables.   Remove the caponata from the heat.  Place the caponata into a container and chill it in a refrigerator.  Chill the caponata for two hours before serving so that all the flavors meld.  (Don't let this caponata get too mushy by over cooking.  Only add a minimum amount of the liquids so the time spent simmering will not be long.) 
     Mozzarella Crostini Recipe:  Cut thin slices of Italian bread.  Brush both sides with olive oil and bake in a 350 degree oven till they are almost crispy.  Top each crostini slice with a fresh mozzarella slice and return them to the oven to soften the cheese.  (Do not brown the cheese!) 
     Assembly:  Place some mixed lettuce, sliced carrot and sliced onion on a serving platter.  Set the bonito carciofi mixture on top of the salad and sprinkle a little bit of coarse ground black pepper over the salad.  Set the crostini and caponata on the platter and sprinkle a little bit of oregano on the cheese. 
     This is such a satisfying, healthy and great tasting antipasti platter!  Putting the caponata or the  bonito carciofi on a slice of the cheese crostini while eating is such a nice combination.  I made the bread a couple days ago and it is perfect for making crostini.  I bought the mozzarella but I occasionally make fresh mozzarella cheese with fresh curds.  The coponata recipe is one of many regional Italian coponata styles.  Italian cooking is simplicity at its best.  Quality and technique are always important in perfection Italian cooking.  Exact proportions and distinct ingredients yield great flavors from a combination of just a few ingredients.  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna

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