5@5 - Restaurateur Jason Denton
September 10th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Jason Denton, who started with but a wee panini press and only 400 square feet of space, now boasts an Italian small plate empire - his restaurants 'ino, 'inoteca, 'inoteca liquori and corsino are all located in New York City. Oh, and he also helped our pals Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich open up the still consistently packed Lupa Osteria Romana back in 1998.

Now, the restaurateur is giving us a kick into the weekend from Italy's boot. You know what they say: It's not the size of the plate ...

Five Tips for Constructing the Perfect Antipasti Platter: Jason Denton

1. Flavor profile is so important.
"When creating an antipasti platter, it is key to satisfy all your senses. Mix items on the plate that are spicy, sweet, savory and salty. Use items that are colorful and have lots of different textures. Each component should have an identity all to itself but taste great together. Approach antipasti as you would any dish - fresh ingredients on their own make for an excellent dish overall."

2. Eat Your Pickled Veggies
"Pickled vegetables are great way to start and are sometimes unexpected. Agrodolce (translation "sour-sweet") is a striking Italian flavor profile. The pickling liquid has a tiny bit of sweetness in it so it really sparks when it's in your mouth."

3. Mix it up!
"I like to mix veggies, cheese and meat on the antipasti plate - which isn't traditional. I start with a lighter cheese, something creamy, with a curd-based texture - light and whipped with a little bit of salt, olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper and herbs. This with a little bit of toasted Ciabatta bread on the side is a simple and delicious addition. The creaminess of the cheese is a fantastic contrast with the pickled veggies.

Next, add some cured meats like soppressata and cacciatorini. The gamey and assertive texture next to the creaminess of the cheese balances nicely both on the plate and in your mouth. Meats and cheeses are great by themselves but all together on one plate takes meat and cheese to a whole new level."

4. Olives are an antipasti staple.
"I marinate them in a little olive oil and shave a little bit of orange or lemon zest and chili flakes together. The longer it sits, the better the texture of the olives - and this is a light distinct flavor and texture component on the antipasti plate."

5. Use What You Like
"Everyone makes this different from house to house. At 'ino, we like to add a little caponata and pepperonata to round out the perfect antipasti plate. Simply roast eggplant, caper berries, fresh herbs, tomatoes, honey and red chili flake until the eggplant is soft and all the flavors have combined. It creates a fantastic side dish too, sweet but still tangy and spicy. Pepperonata has a great texture next to the caponata. At 'ino we take cubes of bell peppers, some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with thyme, chili flakes and kosher salt and let the peppers cook for about 25 minutes. The sweetness is intense and pairs well with the sour of the caponata."

What's the anatomy of your antipasti? Let us know in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Think

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    It was Friday. I work today, so more shenanigans guaranteed.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  2. robot chop

    peanut gallery must have the night off.......

    September 10, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
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