ANTIPASTO: THE NEW TV DINNER

No matter how you slice it, everyone looks forward to Friday night. End of the workweek for many, date night for others, game night or just downtime, it is what we crave.

What we want most is the time to relax. A few no hassle, change out of our face-the-world clothes and just let go and breathe. To that end, we have gone a pretty simple, no cook dinner route in our kitchen.

051015 tvdinner

Antipasto, the meal before the meal is fast becoming a staple for end-of-the-week fare. Turn platters such as those above into your moveable feast, and you’re good to go. A bottle of wine, fresh lemonade, or a special cocktail added to the mix and suddenly the tedium of the week turns into the reverie that it ought to be.

Pick a venue; a spot that might be unexpected. Porch, deck, den, living room, the idea is to crawl out of the usual. This particular dinner evolved out of an apathetic attitude to years of Friday night pizza at our kitchen table. We wanted something tasty, food with grown-up appeal that takes no effort and delivers big on flavor.

081514 cheese tray

Scour your markets; Italian deli’s, boutique markets that cater to a specific region or culinary style. An educated cheesemonger can introduce you to some likable and unexpected flavors. Start with a classic cheese tray. A selection of three, one hard, one soft and spreadable, and one with a strong flavor such as a Buttermilk Blue, or a Roquefort. Add some artisanal crackers or a good, crusty baguette and some in-season fruit, nice for an intimate get-together or a crowd. It also works on a buffet, or as dessert. Culinary desire dictated a need for more zest and excitement for us though.

Go with a theme; A little provolone, some spicy sopressata, long, fatty tongues of prosciutto, slick, salty olives, and sweet melon can wipe out any ennui you might still be feeling after a soul crushing week.

Catching up with all the latest shows on TV has become our winter, cold weather source of entertainment on Friday night. DVR set to numb our exhausted minds, antipasto platter on the coffee table and wine glass in hand, we are ready to begin again.

As the weather improves, and all of our fave series come to their seasonal end, we move the trays of no cook goodies to the back porch. Then it’s candle light, singing cicadas, fireflies, and the screeches of neighborhood kids playing manhunt. The sounds of the suburbs, the flavors of a no cook, no serve meal, now that’s something to look forward to.

In warmer weather, search out farmers markets and roadside stands for ripe choices. Berries, melon and fresh tomatoes are bright additions to finger-food platters. Many of todays outdoor marts run the gamut of culinary options. Enjoy the sunshine while grabbing some fresh produce, baked goods, and pickled delights. Don’t forget the condiments. Local honey purveyors, aged vinegars, jams and sweet or spicy jellies can make or break any meal. Drizzle a little honey over the cheese, a splash of balsamic makes mozzarella more interesting and a good cherry habanero jelly adds zip to the softer cheeses.

Go nuts; A little crunch in the form of macadamias or almonds is an added dimension that might be unexpected. Just remember, big flavors, contradictory textures, and a relaxing atmosphere can get you where you want to go in the end.

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