There's nothing more refreshing than a change of scene. We spent this past weekend in Philadelphia as part of a family reunion.
In addition to the historic sites, we visited several markets, including the Italian Market in South Philadelphia:
I didn't want to leave. I loved walking down the narrow sidewalks, peeking into bins of bright fruits and vegetables. In one shop, we stood among the baked ricotta and hard-rind cheeses, sampling bits that the counterperson cut for us. I found a bag of Black Beluga lentils in another shop. In a third, we purchased a beautiful salami washed with Pinot Grigio.
For dinner, we ate at Osteria, a Marc Vetri restaurant that was nominated for a James Beard award this year. Osteria offers house-cured meats, thin-crust pizzas (we ordered a fig and proscuitto combination that was out of this world), and savory fresh pastas. The specials included an antipasto platter that may have been my favorite item.
As a tribute to our trip, I made an antipasto platter of fresh veggies, cheeses, and salami when we got home.
A Fritter Original
This antipasto platter contains green beans with parsley pesto, olives with red pepper flake and garlic, blanched asparagus tips with lemon, fresh mozzarella, sliced salami, arugula salad with lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano, blanched carrots, fingerling potatoes with thyme, fresh figs and blueberries, and slow-roasted tomatoes with honey.
2 Roma tomatoes
2 teaspoons of honey
6-8 olives (I used Kalamata and Manzanilla)
2 fingerling potatoes, or other small potato
Handful of green beans
4 small carrots, peeled
Handful of asparagus tips
5 slices of high-quality salami, sliced (I used De Bruno Bros. salami washed in Pinot Grigio)
4 figs (I used Brown Turkey figs)
Handful of blueberries
1 small ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
Handful of arugula
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 teaspoons
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
1 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, lightly packed
1/8 cup of pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the Roma tomatoes lengthwise and place them on a baking sheet. Rub them all over with olive oil, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Add the 2 teaspoons of honey to the tops of the tomatoes after 45-60 minutes, then continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly, sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme over them.
Place the olives in a small bowl (or coffee cup), and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Chop 1 small clove of garlic and add to the olives. Add the red pepper flakes and toss the olives to coat. Set aside to marinate.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fingerling potatoes and boil for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool to room temperature. Using the same pot of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 1 minute, then remove them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat with the carrots, then the asparagus. Drain the vegetables well and set aside.
Chop 1/2 teaspoon of the fresh thyme and mix with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to infuse. Slice the potatoes lengthwise and drizzle with the thyme-olive oil mixture.
Make a pesto for the green beans: place one clove of garlic, 1 cup of flat-leaf parsley, and the pine nuts in a food processor. Turn the processor on and add 1/4 cup of olive oil in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the processor and turn it on again until the ingredients are smoothly blended.
Toss the blanched green beans with the pesto in a bowl until they are coated evenly.
Assemble your platter. Place a handful of arugula in the center and drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Surround the arugula with your fruits, vegetables, cheese, and salami in an eye-catching manner.