Stacy Adimando is a cook and an Italian, so she knows a thing or two about food. As she traveled through Italy, tasting the food her relatives made for her and in the restaurants they took her to, she discovered the ingenuity and possibilities of antipasti. Italian restaurants in America tend to use antipasti as a first course, before pasta or meats (or both), but Adimando saw the possibilities of using it as a framework for a meal, especially when entertaining.
Piatti is her cookbook, a combination of ideas and recipes to use for the shareable dishes and a different way to look at cooking at eating in general. She makes quite a case for grazing instead of sitting down to a meal, to setting a table with a medley of homemade and store-bought, vegetables and meats, soft textures as well as crunchy, and finger foods as well as dishes you’d need a knife and fork for. More than just a fancy cheese and sausage board, Adimando’s idea of these small plates offer a tantalizing array of bites for all taste buds.
She starts with good advice in general about pickled vegetables, salty meats, pantry staples like anchovies and nuts, and most importantly, plenty of good wine and breads. There are recipes for pickling and for a garlic confit that makes my mouth water, and for homemade crackers and breadsticks and crostini. She then goes to look at the possibilities that open up during each of the four seasons.
Winter includes a Citrus Salad, Roasted Shallots, Stuffed Mussels, Garlic Knots, Eggplant Parmigiana, and Thinly Sliced Tuscan Pork Loin. Spring brings a Broccolini Frittata, Salmon Rillettes, White Wine Clams, Baby Root Vegetables and Ricotta Tartlets, Pistachio Pesto, and Nanny’s Veal Braciolini. Summer’s offerings include Roasted Cherries, Grilled Apricots, Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake, Shrimp and Cherry Tomato Fra Diavolo, and Grilled Lobster Tails. Fall’s recipes comprise Potato Salad with Warm Figs, Seared Mushrooms, Braised Pork, Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie, Tri-Color Beets, Mini “Porchetta,” Breaded Chicken Cutlets, and Fried Beef Meatballs.
I am not the best cook or hostess (although I’m always trying to be better), but as I flipped through these recipes, I could’t help but think of how I could add some of these suggestions to my next dinner party or the next big family dinner. These are simple and flavorful ways to add more smiles, more shares, and more cheers to any occasion, and I intend to take advantage of these inspired ideas.
Galleys for Piatti: Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy were provided by Chronicle Books through Edelweiss, with many thanks.