Antipasto salad is cool dish

I love to pack salads for lunch at the office, but after a while I tire of my usual combination of lettuce, vegetables and grilled chicken or cubed cheese. When I've hit the wall on my standard medley, I head in a different direction, with an antipasto salad. The usual salad players -- lettuce and tomato -- are there, but marinated vegetables, hearty salami and a homemade lemon-basil vinaigrette make this a lunch I look forward to.

 

Antipasto, or antipasti, means "before the meal" in Italian. Usually, this first course consists of platters of marinated vegetables, sliced cured meats and fresh vegetables. Here, the antipasto regulars are tossed with a big green salad.

Substitutes for the salami include spicy capicola or regular smoked ham. Consider fontina, Romano, asiago or Parmesan in place of the mozzarella. Marinated mushrooms, which come packed in jars, would be a good addition to the marinated artichoke hearts.

Drain the artichokes over a bowl so you can use the juices in the vinaigrette. If you'd rather not bother with homemade dressing, use your favorite bottled vinaigrette.

This salad also makes a light dinner or a delicious, hearty first course to an Italian-inspired meal.

Contact Karin Calloway at karin.calloway@comcast.net. See her prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on television station WJBF (Channel 6). Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karincalloway.

ANTIPASTO SALAD WITH LEMON-BASIL VINAIGRETTE

For the salad

1 head romaine lettuce or green leaf lettuce, washed and torn

3 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained (reserve juice)

1 cup pitted black olives

8 ounces salami, cut into cubes

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed

1 recipe lemon-white balsamic vinaigrette

To pack for lunch: Place the lettuce, tomato wedges, artichoke hearts and olives into a plastic container. Place the salami and cheese into another container. Pack a portion of the vinaigrette into a small container. When ready to serve, toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables and then add the cubed salami and cheese.

For the lemon-basil vinaigrette

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Reserved juice from the marinated artichoke hearts and mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Q cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except oil, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine. Turn on the processor and slowly drizzle in the oil. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.

Makes 6 servings.

GROCERIES

Produce

1 head romaine lettuce or green leaf lettuce

3 tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

1 large lemon

Garlic (2 cloves)

Canned goods

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts

1 can pitted black olives

White balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar can substitute, 2 tablespoons)

Deli/cheeses

1-2 thick (1-inch) slices of salami (½ pound)

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

Pantry

Dried oregano, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

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