Today’s sandwich is “The Antipasto.” It combines Genoa salami, spicy pepperoni, sliced provolone, pepperoncini peppers, sun dried tomatoes, an artichoke and olive tapenade, and anchovy mayonnaise on thick slices of Italian bread.
Notes: On the holidays of my childhood, we would gather around bedsheet-covered card tables with my mothers aunts, uncles, cousins, their kids, my grandparents, great-grandmother, and somebody’s Uncle Vinny, in order to celebrate, that is, to eat. There would be a baked macaroni dish drowning in red sauce, usually lasagna or stuffed shells. Brown shopping bags full of loaves of sliced Italian bread from the grocer. Platters of marinated orange slices, furry little anchovies, celery, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, oil-cured olives and dun dried tomatoes with salami, capiocola, provolone and table cheese. And that was all before the main course, a ham, turkey, or rack of lamb, depending on the day, served with steamed vegetables, a salad, cranberry sauce and potatoes. Later, pie and pastries and coffee. And many games of Pokeno when it was cold and Bocce when it was warm outside.
Antipasto is still my favorite part of the traditional family meal, or any meal. When I would visit my grandmother in recent years, in her little cottage condo by the sea, she would always have my favorite small plate treats waiting for me – stuffed artichokes, cured meats, stinky cheese, fried peppers and eggplant and a room temperature fritatta. And lots and lots of bread. She was also required to have a jug of strong red table wine, articles clipped from the local newspaper and a box of Andes candies just for me. We would sit and talk at her kitchen table and wait for the mailman to come or a trip out to the shops and the local evening news and maybe a screening of a classic film, some chocolate pudding, and straight to bed by eleven.
This sandwich has it all. All the best components of an antipasto dish piled up into a meal.
Makes one big sandwich
- 2 thick slices rustic Italian bread
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 marinated artichoke heart
- 6 mixed, pitted olives, including pimento-stuffed, kalamata, and castelvetrano
- 4-6 slices Genoa salami
- 4-6 slices sandwich-sized pepperoni
- 1 slice provolone cheese, quartered
- 1 tablespoon sundried tomato spread
- 2 tablespoons pepperoncini peppers
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and anchovy paste, and stir well to combine.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse marinated artichoke and olives into a coarse spread.
Spread the bottom of one slice of bread with the anchovy mayonnaise. Top with pepperoni, then salami, then provolone. Top with a layer of the artichoke and olive mixture.
Spread the other slice of bread with the sundried tomato spread, then top with sliced pepperocinis. Using the blade of a knife to help hold the sandwich together while you flip, carefully fold the two sides of the sandwich together. Slice and serve.