Mom’s Tomato Antipasti

Even more simple than its predecessor, this is my second recipe post and it, too, comes from my childhood. I was raised in Detroit, in what we Chicagoans refer to as a “2-flat.” My family of five lived on the first floor and Zia’s family of five lived on the second. My Grandpa, Mom & Zia’s father, also lived “upstairs,” as did Zia’s mother-in-law, Nonna, on occasion whenever she visited from Canada. Every Summer, Grandpa’s world revolved around his garden, more specifically: his tomatoes. Early each Spring, he planted seeds that he had harvested from the largest beefsteak tomato of his previous year’s crop. A few weeks later, he would select at least 2 dozen of the best seedlings for planting within “his half” of the back yard. Sometime around mid-July, the first of the tomatoes would ripen and from that point until the first frost, we had fresh tomatoes whenever we wanted. Not so coincidentally, it was around mid-July that Mom’s tomato antipasti would make their first appearance of the season on our dinner table.

I’m sure that most are familiar with insalata caprese, where slices of tomato are adorned with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves. A drizzle of olive oil and, sometimes, a splash of vinegar complete this summertime favorite. Although similar, Mom’s dish has 1 ingredient too many for some palates, but that just means there’s more for me.

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Grandpa, His Tomatoes & Guard Dog, “Cookie”

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Mom’s Tomato Antipasti

yield: 1 platter

prep time: approx.  10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 large ripe tomatoes, evenly sliced (more may be required, depending upon the platter size)
  • 1 small can of anchovies in oil, drained and separated into fillets
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (more may be required, depending upon the platter size)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (more may be required, depending upon the platter size)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Arrange the tomato slices in one layer across a serving platter. Season with salt & pepper.
  2. Separate the platter into halves and place 1 anchovy on each tomato slice within one of the halves.
  3. Sprinkle the entire platter with the chopped basil and parsley.
  4. Drizzle the entire platter lightly with extra virgin olive oil before adding a splash of red wine vinegar.
  5. Give a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese to the side of the platter that does NOT contain anchovies.
  6. Serve.

Variations

Taken as-is, this recipe comes with its own variation. If you like, you can separate the tray into 3 equal sections, prepare 2 sections as indicated above, and fill the 3rd with insalata caprese, as pictured above..

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12 thoughts on “Mom’s Tomato Antipasti

  1. I remember my uncle would save his “best” tomato seeds from each year, drying them out to plant the following year. You were very fortunate to be surrounded by so many family. Both sets of my grandparents had already passed when I was born. I missed out on alot of old time cooking!!

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    • You are so right, Linda. We were very lucky to have been raised when & how we were raised — surrounded by an extended family. And today, sitting with Zia and discussing these recipes, she recounts all kinds of stories that I knew nothing about. I’m trying to incorporate all of them into these posts so that other family members will become aware of them.

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    • You are so right, Claire. The anchovies make this dish, at least in my opinion — but I really like anchovies. Served atop a vine-ripened tomato and it is quite the summertime treat. Mom served this platter frequently in Summer and I was so glad my siblings didn’t like the little fish — all the more for me! 🙂

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  4. I love grandpa, his guard dog, and the tomatoes pictures. So true, so true! Don’t touch the tomatoes! Love the recipe and the picture!

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    • Thanks, Judy. From May through October, Grandpa was in that back yard coaxing his vines to produce more and larger tomatoes. Woe to the Grandchild that did anything that in any way impacted his vines in a negative manner. In reality, he was all bark, just like “Cookie”. Grandpa wouldn’t ever lay a finger on us but we didn’t realize that until we were older. 🙂

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  5. This looks great John! What a great looking (and easy) presentation. I LOVE IT !! I’ve gotta ‘pin’ this so I don’t forget it!! I hope all is well. I’ve been fighting a stupid strep infection… but I’m getting there !!

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