The Elegance of Antipasto

A festive fusion of color and simplicity

I love throwing holiday parties in my home! I love everything- from designing the invitations, to planning out the small details and decor. However, as any hostess will tell you, it can take weeks of planning and preparation to pull off a single four hour party. It is a lot of work. So, when the festive day finally arrives, after deep cleaning my home, deco- rating, and taking care of my three small children, I hardly have time to get showered and dressed before the guests arrive- much less serve up a perfectly timed, hopelessly complicated menu. If you can relate, do not despair! This doesn’t mean you cannot still impress. Thanks to my easy-to-assemble Antipasto Platter served alongside Festive Hummus! // by Lauren Yarborough Nikolas

ANTIPASTO PLATTER


ROASTED GARLIC
– 5 heads of garlic
– 5 t. olive oil
– heavy duty aluminum foil
– sharp knife
– cookie sheet
ROASTING THE GARLIC
When selecting the garlic, try to choose heads whose cloves are all the same height. Carefully cut the top off the head with a very sharp knife, so that each clove is internally exposed slightly, then pour a teaspoon of olive oil on top. The oil will seep in and around the husk while it is roasting making it easy to remove in the end. Lastly wrap each clove with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside three roasted cloves for a garnish to top the hummus recipe.

ROASTED PEPPERS
– 6 red peppers
– 6 T. olive oil
– cold water (for submerging)
– large bowl
– salt to taste
– cookie sheet
– warming dish
– tongs
ROASTING THE PEPPERS
Roasting peppers is a fairly easy process, but you must watch them closely as they can burn easily! Simply set your oven rack on the highest, or second highest shelf. Then broil, leaving the oven door slightly ajar. You should be able to hear the skin crackle. Once the skin is blackened and loose on one side, turn and roast the other. It should only take a few minutes, so be vigilant. When the roasting process is complete, move the peppers to a bowl of cold water with tongs. Then carefully peel the skin off. You can now put them in a warming dish filled with the olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt.

PLATTER ADDITIONS
– 3 packages of crumbled feta cheese
– olive medley (4 jars of assorted olives such as kalamata, black, and green)
– 10 T. balsamic
– 10 round pitas (cut into triangles)
Symmetrically assemble your serving tray by attractively grouping together all finished ingredients (reserving 1 red pepper and 3 garlic cloves for hummus recipe). Then line the tray’s edge with half of the pita triangles and drizzle balsamic on top.

FESTIVE HUMMUS


HUMMUS BASE
– 3/4 c tahini
– 3/4 c water
– 3-15 oz cans of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
– 3/4 c fresh lemon juice
– 3/4 t. salt
– 3 cloves raw garlic
– food processor
OPTIONAL: 1 ripe avocado, 2 T. red salsa, 1 roasted red pepper and 3 cloves roasted garlic (reserved from antipasto recipe), paprika, parsley and cumin.

All you do is throw all of the above the ingredients into the food processor! So easy, right? And if it seems a li le too thick, just add more water, one tablespoon at a time.

OPTIONAL FLAVORS:
Make your hummus more flavorful and festive by dividing your finished batch into three. Put the first batch into a serving bowl and garnish with three cloves of the roasted garlic and a sprinkle of cumin. Now, put the second batch back into the food processor and add one whole avocado. Then scoop into a separate serving dish and garnish with red salsa. Then rinse the food processor, put in the third batch of hummus base, along with a roasted red pepper (reserved from recipe above) and blend. Scoop that into a third serving dish and sprinkle with paprika and parsley.