Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Antipasti Salad

I put this salad together after I had a whole lot of toppings leftover from my grilled pizza adventure a little while back.  I hate to waste leftovers and always try my best to maximize ingredients.  I figure, if you're going to buy that $2.99 can of artichoke hearts, it's helpful to have some other ideas on how to use them...

Anyway, since we are in the "dog days" of summer (and not yet "over" as stated by the  Florence and Machine song that naturally starts playing in my head as soon as I think of that phrase--also embarrassing confession: I know that I am officially old when I hear songs first covered on the show Glee and then hear them by their original artists, but I digress...), this salad is light yet flavorful and happens to use some things that might happen to grow in your garden right now (not mine, I get all my stuff from the store...curse you, black thumb.).  Feel free to improvise and add other goodies to this as well--sliced cucumber or zucchini, cubed salami or pepperoni pieces, cooked cooled pasta to bulk it up, you can even substitute another kind of Italian cheese for the fresh mozzarella.  Make it your own and eat those dog days away.

Antipasti Salad
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts (about 1 cup)
1 cup grape tomatoes, larger ones halved
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed into bite sized pieces
1/2 can whole black olives (about 1 cup)
1 cup white button mushrooms, quartered
1/4-1/2 cup favorite Balsamic vinaigrette or Italian style dressing (see below for optional recipe)
1/4-1/2 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, reserving some whole ones for garnish if desired

Directions: Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl except for the dressing and basil leaves.  Stir in desired amount of dressing.  Gently fold in shredded basil and garnish with additional basil leaves as needed.  Can be served immediately or allowed to marinate for up to 24 hours (keep basil off until ready to serve).

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette:
    4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    2-4 tablespoons olive oil
   1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    fresh ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a plastic container with a lid.  Shake vigorously until ingredients are combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Shake again immediately before using. 

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