(In a frenzy.)
You would think, given that this website acts as a sort of mealtime confessional, I may be tempted to advise the world that I served my family a wonderfully balanced, seasonal meal tonight. Given the fact that W and I spent most of the afternoon at a playdate, perhaps I should have been more on the ball, stopping to buy a frozen steak on the way home before running for my bottle of valium. (Did you know that the term mother’s little helper referred to valium? Or executive excedrine among corporate types and dolls in the ’60s novel Valley of the Dolls. From 1969 to 1982 it was the nation’s most prescribed drug, earning La Roche pharmaceutical $600 million annually. In 1978, nearly 2.3 billion tabs of valium were downed. Perhaps I’m in the wrong business.)
So at 6 o’clock the news came on, and suddenly we were all starving and started rummaging through the fridge and freezer in search of some form of dinner. To deflect some less-healthy filler Mike grabbed to ease his stomach rumbling while we figured it out, I opened a jar of the antipasto we made at Christmas, and a box of Wheat Thins. We make a giant pot of antipasto every year, eat more than our fill of it, and then don’t have the urge to eat antipasto until November rolls around again. This is the recipe my Grandma and great aunts made, from the Uncommon Cookbook, published as a fundraiser by The Art Gallery of Windsor. It is the only antipasto that works for me – every other variety tastes weird.
I’d like to know who first thought to combine tuna, ketchup, cauliflower and shrimp. Perhaps some stressed-out mom trying to come up with dinner out of the sad contents of her fridge? So after the frenzy had calmed down, most of the jar was gone, along with half the box of Wheat Thins. (For some reason I love those things. Could be the quantity of sugar they contain.) We determined that we had probably eaten enough to count as dinner, calorie-wise, and so had some oranges and chunks of dark chocolate and called dinner out of the way.
And we did, by the way, feed W a normal dinner. (Thank any gods out there for poached eggs on toast.)
Antipasto isn’t hard, but does require a lot of chopping. Don’t be tempted to use a food processor – the texture just won’t be the same. This recipe will make a lot. It freezes well, and people are always grateful to be on the receiving end of a jar.
1/2-1 cup olive or canola oil, or half of each
1 small head cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 large or 2 medium purple onions, peeled and chopped
2 – 375 mL cans or jars pitted, sliced black olives
2 – 375 mL cans or jars manzanilla olives, sliced
2 small red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped (the original recipe calls for green peppers, but I’m not a fan)
3 – 106 g cans small cocktail shrimp, or an equivalent amount of frozen shrimp (you can even use larger ones and chop them up)
3 cans tuna in water, drained
3 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup white vinegar
2 – 10 oz. (284 mL) cans mushroom slices or pieces, drained
In a very large pot, combine the oil, cauliflower, onions and olives and bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. (This is how it’s worded in the original book – it sounds as if the veg are boiling in oil, but really the ratio is so great that it’s a lot of cauliflower, onions and olives sort of glistening in the oil – it’s hard to tell if it’s actually “boiling”, so just make sure it’s cooking to the point where any juices you see are bubbling.)
Add the remaining ingredients and heat just until it boils. If you are using jars, pour the hot antipasto into hot, sterilized jars; seal and cool. Otherwise, remove the pot from the heat and let the antipasto cool, then transfer to containers to store in the fridge or freeze.
Makes about 4 L.
Contents per 1/4 cup: 76 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 2.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0.4 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.6 g protein, 8.3 g carbohydrates, 8.7 mg cholesterol, 1.2 g fiber.