Linda's Incredibly Complicated yet Fantabulous Antipasta

“This is what we made for our huge family banquets. When my Aunt Nancy and I were teens we were in charge of assembling it on a huge tray which we refilled several times. We stuffed black olives with cream cheese (Philly, of course) and ate more than we served until Grandmom threatened us with a wooden spoon. We made this when our family got together, usually 30 - 40 people. These meals were big events and we cooked for a week. I hope you try this when you have a special occasion with your family. Get the teenagers to help assemble but don't bonk them with a wooden spoon should they eat too many olives! Aunt Nancy and I were faster than Grandmom so we escaped, laughing (most of the time). I cut the recipe down to feed a smaller crowd than ours. Alternatively, you can make individual servings which are very pretty for a formal table. Please note that a lot of the prep work can be done the day before.”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and well trimmed of hard spines
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 24 scallions, trimmed well with no tough greens
  • 6 carrots, pared and sliced thinly into long ribbons
  • 1 gallon water, ice cold with lots of ice added
  • 1 lb grape tomatoes
  • 24 slices provolone cheese (thin)
  • 24 slices hot capicola ham
  • 24 slices genoa salami (thin)
  • 24 tablespoons tuna, yellow fin, drained
  • 24 pepperoncini peppers
  • 24 slices prosciutto, sliced (very thin)
  • 24 one inch pieces provolone cheese, sharp
  • 24 cherry peppers, pickled
  • 2 (12 ounce) jars olives, pimento stuffed (jumbo)
  • 2 (4 ounce) jarspickled mushrooms, halved
  • 3 (12 ounce) cans black olives, pitted
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature (Philly of course!)
  • 1 stalk celery, scrubbed and cut into two-bite pieces
  • 2 burpless cucumbers, channeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups baby artichoke hearts, marinated and quartered
  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) can salted anchovies (optional)


  1. THE DAY BEFORE: Make sure all of your produce is very clean. Cut half of the scallions, tops and bottoms, lengthwise to form fringes, leaving the very centers (about 1 1/2 inches) uncut and put them in the ice water. Slice the carrots into thin ribbons, lengthwise and roll up into a tight 'coil', being sure not to break them, and secure with tooth picks; put them into the ice water with the scallions.
  2. Wrap 24 slices of prosciutto around 24 pieces of sharp provolone. Stuff the wrapped cheese into a cherry pepper which has been seeded and put the stuffed peppers back into the pickle brine. (You can do the stuffed cherry peppers several days ahead and let them hang out in the fridge - My brother Dave makes gallons of these stuffed peppers and gives them as gifts. You can also do this with cream cheese and it is fabulous.).
  3. Line the rim of a very large platter with the romaine lettuce leaves letting them come over the edge of the platter. Spread the shredded ice berg lettuce on the platter. You will need the shredded lettuce to support the Tonno Cups.
  4. MAKE TONNO CUPS: layer a slice of Capicola ham on top of a slice of salami on top of a slice of provolone and make a 'pleat' in the slices, forming a cone or cup shape. Secure with a frilled toothpick so no one bites into the tonno cup and gets a nasty surprise. Put one tablespoon of tuna (tonno in Italian) into the center of the cup. Arrange the 24 cups around the edge of the platter, supporting them with the shredded iceberg lettuce. If you intend to use anchovies this would be the time to make a hole in the center of your shredded lettuce so you can put a ramekin in the center to hold those fuzzy little things. Use the best you can afford. Arrange the stuffed peppers around the platter.
  5. Stuff the black olives with cream cheese and add them and the green olives to the platter. Stuff half of the celery with the remaining cream cheese and arrange them around the platter.
  6. Score the cucumbers with a fork if you don't have a zester or channel knife. Arrange them on the platter. Scatter the artichoke hearts and mushrooms around. Add the anchovies to the ramekin if you are going to use them.
  7. Dry your scallions - surprise! don't they look cute? - and unfurl your carrots and decorate the platter with them and the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients as you have room for them.
  8. PLEASE make this recipe your own by adding what you and your family like. It is easy to scale down to individual proportions for small gatherings.
  9. Pass some Italian bread (recipe #273358) red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and maybe some parmesan shavings. Or if you desire you can make a vinaigrette.

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