A swarthy waiter will serve you Antipasti & Meze in Italian, Greek or Turkish restaurants. It would almost be worth it to order them just to see the sexy hairy arms of said waiter…but there is more to these delicious nibbles than Mediterranean good looks.
Antipasti (Italian) and Meze (Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern) are generally straightforward, easy to share snacks topped with olive oil. They are a perfect way to start a meal, at a restaurant or at home.
German supermarkets sell all sorts of Antipasti in jars, bottles and tins. Do yourself a favor, and don’t buy them! The over-pricedness aside, they just won’t be great. Good, possibly. Great, no! One major exception to this rule are Pimiento de piquillo de Lodosa, those scrumptious red peppers from Spain that are divine…and from a tin! But, they are not readily available outside of Spain (I dare you to ask for them at Edeka!).
Even if you live somewhere with good supermarkets (ie. not in Germany), it is still worth making your own Antipasti. The flavor will be superior, and there is something very satisfying about peeling roasted peppers and mashing up hummus.
About those peppers…let’s start with them as our first recipe. They are delicious, versatile and easy to prepare. Plus, your friends who do not cook will be in awe of your creation, guaranteed.
Things you need:
– Peppers! I like a mix of red, yellow and orange, but you can use your favorites. Roasting is perfect for less than perfect peppers, so dont worry if they are not immaculate. And, although you can make just one pepper, it is really not much more effort to make a bunch. I recommend making at least 6 or 7…more if you can.
– Olive oil. Lots.
– Garlic. Just a few slivers to enhance the oil’s flavor.
– An airtight container to store them. I love the glass “Tupperware” from Emsa…but not necessary.
– Preheat oven to as high as it will go.
– Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (things get a bit messy)-allow to heat in the warming oven.
. Wash your peppers.
– Place them on the baking sheet once the oven has reached the baking temperature. Put the sheet as high as possible in the oven.
– Bake! Depending on the peppers and your oven, timing varies drastically. You want them to blacken. Yes, blacken. It will enable you to slip the skin off later. In my ghetto oven it takes a good 30 minutes before the peppers need to be turned. All sides should blacken. Lots of juice will be released along the way.
– While the peppers are baking, peel and slice some garlic. Roughly one clove per 5 peppers.
– Once the peppers are significantly charred, put them in a container and seal fairly tightly. The steam generated from the cooling peppers also allows you to get the skin off.
– Cool enough so you can handle the peppers. Slip the skins off (don’t fret if a little skin won’t budge). Remove all seeds.
– Tear or cut up each pepper into two or three sections.
– Line your storage container with a healthy dose of olive oil and add the peppers and garlic, adding more olive oil as you go.
– Wait! These will taste better when allowed to cool fully, and the oil has had some time to soak up some of the garlic. Ideally 24 hours in the fridge…but you can eat immediately.
– Serve with bread and some of the oil. Or add to sandwiches, rice, burgers…Enjoy!
When the Peppers are gone, use the remaining oil to make an omelet!
For those of you who have gotten this far, but still can’t be bothered to make your own…the following restaurants also do a good job of Antipasti/Meze: