This mixture of Mediterranean Olives, Hard Italian Salami, Hard Cheese, Roasted Peppers and Artichoke Hearts marinated in a vinaigrette style dressing is awesome served as a stand-alone appetizer or served on an Antipasto Platter.
Last spring, we had 5 friends/business friends over for cocktails and dinner. It was one of those really fun, casual evenings that I didn’t want to end! Sometime after midnight, my body went into “time-to-go-to-bed” mode, but my mind was not ready to shut down. The conversation was engaging and there were still a lot of discussions to have! My body was definitely ready for bed after a long, but great day in my kitchen trying some new recipes and photographing some old ones.
The menu started with my Mediterranean Olive, Hard Salami and Cheese Antipasto Mix, Grilled Artichokes with Creamy Dipping Sauce (my daughter, Abby’s, favorite), and Blue Cheese-Pecan Icebox Cookies. The Blue Cheese-Pecan Icebox Cookie recipe sounded great…but it was not my favorite. Just to be sure, I’ll try that one again as I may have over-baked them and, as we all know, over cooked pecans are not so great! I added Cajun Crab Spread. I saw it at Captain Dave’s Seafood Market in Plano where I purchased the sea bass; so…I cheated on that one. I just couldn’t pass it up! We all love it, but it is my son, Zach’s, favorite. I threw in Marcona Almonds, Pistachios in the Shell and mixed crackers.
If you live in the Plano area, Captn’ Dave’s Seafood Market and Central Market grocery are the places to go for fresh seafood. Central Market is on Coit Road at George Bush. Their seafood department has just about any seafood you can imagine in stock. If they don’t have it, they can order it. Captn’ Dave’s Seafood Market is on Plano Parkway at Alma. He gets deliveries in everyday; so his seafood is always fresh. He has a great website with everything he has in stock listed. He can also order almost anything you want. We are regulars during crawfish season, as he has the best crawfish and the best prices!
Last summer when we were visiting my brother and sister-in-law, Neal and Cherie, in Victor, Idaho, I bought the coolest handmade pottery dish designed specifically for serving nuts in the shell. It has one side for the nuts and one side for the empty shells. I absolutely love the design! You may as well know now…I am a freak for handmade pottery! I think it has such an earthy, naturey feel to it. It makes me smile! You will be seeing lots of it in my photos. As I love the bowl and we love pistachios or peanuts in the shell, I will be using the bowl often.
The next course was my favorite Greek style salad, Aegean Salad (Posted). If you like Greek salad dressing, you will love this one! The salad is very versatile, as you can use only a few or all, or more or less of the salad ingredients. In other words, a customized Greek style salad. You can also easily make it larger or smaller to suit the number of people you are serving.
For the “dinner” part of the evening, I put my husband, Joel (AKA Chief, as named by our twin grandsons), on grill duty. It’s not his favorite thing to do! He gets a little…no a lot flustered if I give him more than 2 things to grill! He was in charge of grilling the Grilled Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, Rafts of Grilled Asparagus, Seasoned Rib Eye Steaks and my new favorite fish recipe…Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass (Posted…a must-try!). (That sea bass recipe is the best!!) In spite of all of the worry he had around getting everything grilled without charring it (He knew I’d kill him if that happened!!), he did a masterful job…made himself look like “Chief Griller Extraordinaire”! At that point in the evening, dinner was pretty much running on automatic. The only major thing I had left to deal with was the Mushroom Ragu, and I must say, that new recipe turned out so yummy…creamy, rich and flavorful! An absolute perfect side dish for steaks. If you like mushrooms, it is a must to try! (I’ll be posting that one soon.)
And for the final touch, the desserts. I added White Chocolate-Key Lime Calypso Bars (Posted) and Triple-Espresso Brownies to the menu. I made the White Chocolate-Key Lime Calypso Bars for a shower 2 weeks ago, and they were a hit. I’m not so sure about the Triple-Espresso Brownies??? I didn’t think they were so great, but everyone else thought they were awesome…go figure. I’ll make them one more time before I cast final judgment and decide if they make the cut! As was the case with the Blue Cheese-Pecan Icebox Cookies, I may have over-baked them, which often happens with brownies. I usually try to check them about 10 minutes before the recipe says they’re done, but maybe in this case, my multi-tasking wasn’t working so well.
The entire evening was terrific…the food, the company and the outdoors! Well, except for the Spinach Hummus that was really bad!! I’m not sure what the creator of that recipe was thinking, but the recipe is now a wad of paper in the garbage dump…not even good enough to tinker with! Even the weather decided to cooperate at the last minute, and we were able to move everything outdoors…my favorite place to entertain.
My first two posts from this dinner were the Mediterranean Sea Bass and the Aegean Salad. Two of my favorites. If you have not tried them, they are both great, but the Mediterranean Sea Bass is a must! If you love Sea Bass, you will love that recipe.
This post is for the Mediterranean Olive, Hard Salami and Cheese Antipasto Mix. The recipe is a great mixture of olives, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, Italian Dry Salami, and cheese (this time I used Manchego cheese, but I have used Feta and Blue Cheese cubes with great success) tossed in a Balsamic Vinaigrette. What’s not to like!! This is a great party recipe, as you can customize the size of the recipe to the group you are entertaining just by adjusting the amounts used of the olives, artichokes, salami, roasted peppers and cheese. You can also eliminate the artichoke hearts and peppers and still end up with a great appetizer. It can be a “stand alone” appetizer or you can serve it along with other appetizers. My son, Zach, loves to keep it in his fridge as a snack. It’s also a recipe that’s great for entertaining as it can be made a few days ahead of serving. It keeps for at least a week or two in a tightly covered container in the fridge.
My favorite way to serve this awesome olive appetizer is in a small pottery dish with toothpicks and a small bowl for the olive pits. And…here you have more of my favorite pottery serving dishes. There is a great little shop in Denver in the Cherry Creek shopping area called Artisan Center. Every time I visit Abby and Drew, that is one of my first stops. I love, love, love their pottery and other hand made items! If you are ever in the area, stop by.
I love this white ceramic olive serving dish. I think it is called an “Olive Canoe”. The fact that it’s on a stand, makes it even more interesting. I found this at a really cute housewares store in downtown Wimberly, Texas. If you have never taken the time to visit Wimberly, you’re missing out on a fun trip. In addition to having an interesting downtown with lots of shops and restaurants, they have a great flea market once a month.
These are the basic ingredients that are necessary to make the Balsamic Vinaigrette for the Mediterranean Olive, Hard Salami and Cheese Antipasto Mix. As usual, I use Turkish and Mexican Oregano from Penzey’s. I like the Kirkland brand Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I purchase that, along with lots of my other appetizer items, at Costco. I also shop at Sam’s, but I prefer Costco, as they have more organic products than Sam’s. I do try to purchase as much organic as possible. Most of my research shows that eating a healthy, as much organic as possible diet is very important for good health.
This is the Manchego Cheese and the Bel Frantolo Mixed Mediterranean Olives I prefer for this recipe. I purchase both of these products at Costco.
I like using either of these peppers in this recipe. I love the Tassos Fire Roasted Florinas Peppers Whole Sweet. They are simply plain, fire roasted sweet red and yellow peppers. I keep the Del Destino Tri-Color Sweetypepps in the fridge, as they are not only great in this recipe, they are awesome for snacks and condiments. They are slightly sweet, with a hint of heat. I get the Tassos at Costco and the Del Destinos at World Market.
An aside on the Italian Dry Salami which I usually purchase at Costco. I love to serve it on Antipasto Platters. I slice it thin, arrange it nicely on a decorative cheese board or serving tray and serve it with a small bowl of Sweet Hot Mustard, a few cheeses and some good crackers. If I am having a large party, I get the Columbus brand Italian Dry Salami in a long stick (1.9 pounds) at Costco. If I am not having a large group, I use Boar’s Head brand from the grocery deli. My favorite Sweet Hot Mustard is Beaver brand. You could even cube cheese and the salami and serve it with toothpicks. It’s perfect with wine or cocktails!
My favorite Sweet Hot Mustard…Beaver Brand.
The Vinaigrette Dressing is shaken up in my favorite Tupperware shaker/storage container. It’s great for storing salad dressings in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use them, just shake (no dripping or leaking) and pour. I love these shaking /storage containers. I have 4 of them, and they all get used regularly.
In a large, non-reactive (Use glass or plastic as the vinaigrette will react with metal.) bowl, pour the vinaigrette over the olive mixture. Toss.
Add the peppers, salami, cheese and artichoke hearts (if using) to the olive mixture and toss. It is best to make this recipe a day ahead, cover tightly and refrigerate. The flavors are best if they have time to come together.
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed (crushing releases the oils for more flavor)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
- to taste sea or Kosher salt
- to taste fresh ground black pepper
- 1-2 cups (about 20 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and cut into 1 inch pieces (you could also roast and peel fresh red bell peppers)
- 3 cups Mediterranean olive mix or other good-quality mixed olives with the pits in, drained
- 2 cups Italian Dry Salami, cut into ½" cubes
- 1 cup Feta, Jarlsberg, Manchego or other firm cheese, cut into ½" cubes
- ⅛-1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into very thin strips
- for garnish fresh basil leaves, sliced into very thin strips and sprinkled over the top or left whole
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano and garlic. (You could also place all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until thoroughly combined.)
- Allow the dressing mixture to sit about 15-30 minutes, then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl or in a large storage bowl with a tight fitting lid, toss the artichoke hearts, peppers, olives, salami, cheese and basil until combined.
- Pour the dressing over the olive mixture, and toss.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. Occasionally toss or stir.
- Sprinkle fresh sliced basil over the top to serve.
ENJOY one of my favorite appetizers!!
If you try this recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Questions??? Simply email me.