This fall/winter Roasted Vegetable Antipasto is a terrific starter or side dish for a holiday feast or dinner party. An exciting platter of colorful vegetables, cooked to perfection with sweet and sour onions, seared asparagus, and roasted rings of winter squash, carrots and fennel.
In July my husband Eddie and I travelled to the beautiful Amalfi Coast for our 25th wedding anniversary. If you follow this blog you probably read about our Italian cooking vacation. We had cooking class every morning from ten till noon and then ate the delicious three or four course lunch that we had created. But that didn't stop us from going out to dinner every night.
One of my main goals when I travel is to find great restaurants and experience the local cuisine. I always return from vacation recharged with new cooking inspiration. We had some amazing food on our trip and I took notes (actually I took iPhone photos). This roasted vegetable antipasto recipe was inspired by a dish I had at a wonderful restaurant we discovered on our trip called Il Ritrovo.
Il Ritrovo is perched 1,500 feet up the cliff from Positano, in the little town square of Montepertuso. It's a charming restaurant with a stunning view down to the sea.
We ordered grilled octopus, eggplant parmesan and a grilled vegetable antipasto. Everything was outstanding but I have a thing for well executed vegetable dishes and the antipasto (pictured below) blew me away. I loved the rustic simplicity of the dish, a big beautiful plate of healthy grilled vegetables drizzled with good olive oil and balsamic. Heavenly!
My first weekend back home, here's what I made for a casual dinner with friends (iPhone photo below) - my own version of Il Ritrovo's grilled vegetable Antipasto (pre oil and balsamic drizzle).
Next, I created this fall-winter vegetable antipasto with squash, carrots, fennel, asparagus and onions.
This one was so delicious, I had to share it here on the blog.
LET'S MAKE THIS ROASTED VEGETABLE ANTIPASTO!
There are several steps to this recipe but all the veggies can be prepared a few hours ahead of time. They are delicious at room temperature!
The Agrodolce Onions
The centerpiece of the antipasto is Italian sweet and sour agrodolce onions. Here's how you make them:
- Boil small white onions for a few minutes, which makes it easy to pop them out of their skins.
- Sauté the onions in olive oil with sugar and balsamic, to create a thick, caramelized sweet and sour sauce. Just wait until you taste these. They are beyond amazing!!
The Roasted Fennel and Carrots
The fennel and carrots are tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel seeds, and roasted in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes. Here's how to prepare the fennel:
- Cut the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise and carefully cut out the little triangular core piece from each half.
- Cut each half down the middle, through the hole where the core was.
- Pull off any brown or bruised outer leaves.
- Cut each fennel quarter into ¼-inch thick slices, lengthwise
The Delicata Squash Rings
Delicata squash is a Winter squash aptly named for its delicate, edible skin. I love cutting into rounds - it looks so festive. Here's how to prepare it:
- Cut the ends off the squash and cut the squash in half crosswise.
- Now you have two smaller sections of squash so you can dig in from both sides with a spoon, to scoop out the seeds and hollow out each section.
- Once the pieces of squash are hollow, slice them crosswise into thin rings.
ARRANGE THE VEGETABLE ANTIPASTO ON A PLATTER
There are no rules here. Be creative and have fun!
I really enjoyed arranging and rearranging the vegetables. The colors and shapes are fabulous. There are so many possibilities! Wouldn't this roasted vegetable antipasto be beautiful for Thanksgiving?!
Roasted Vegetable Antipasto
A festive Fall-Winter Roasted Vegetable Antipasto with sweet and sour onions, seared asparagus and roasted carrots, fennel and squash. Perfect for holiday entertaining.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 8-10 1x
- Category: Appetizer or Side Dish
- Method: oven roasting
- Cuisine: Italian
- For the Agrodolce Onions:
- 1 ½ pounds small white boiling onions (or substitute Cipollini or pearl onions)
- ½ cup or so of olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar plus more for drizzling over the finished dish
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
- Kosher salt
- For the Carrots:
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into ⅓" slices
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- For the Fennel:
- 2 large fennel bulbs or 3 small, long stems and fronds removed. Save some of the frilly fronds for a garnish.
- For the Squash:
- 1 ½ - 2 pounds delicata squash (4 small or 3 large)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses
- For The Asparagus:
- 1 pound pencil thin asparagus (or as thin as you can find), washed and ends trimmed by an inch or so.
- 2-3 tablespoons good balsamic glaze or good quality balsamic vinegar to drizzle over the antipasto
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Make the Agrodolce Onions: Boil the onions for 2 minutes. (Note: if using tiny pearl onions boil for only 1 minute) Meanwhile prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and ice. Transfer the onions to the ice bath with a slotted spoon and leave them to cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer cooled onions to a cutting board. Slice off their root ends and give them a squeeze towards the top. They should pop right out of their skins. If you have trouble, make a shallow little slice down the side. If any of the onions are a lot larger than the rest, slice them in half through the middle - not through the tip and root ends.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat in a large heavy skillet with a lid. Add onions carefully because the oil will splatter. Sauté onions, partially covered to reduce splattering, for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and nicely browned on several sides. (Note: if you use tiny pearl onions the cooking time will be less) Add the sugar, ¼ cup vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes until onions are coated nicely with sweet and sour sauce. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Roast the Carrots and Fennel: You'll need a large bowl and two rimmed baking sheets. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise. Carefully cut out the little triangular core piece from each half. Then cut each half down the middle, through the hole where the core was. Pull off any brown or bruised outer leaves. Cut each quarter into ¼-inch thick slices, lengthwise (see photo in the post). Toss fennel with 1½ tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Spread out on baking sheet. Toss carrots with 1½ tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Arrange on second baking sheet. Cook carrots and fennel in the upper and lower shelves of the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the vegetable over with a spatula and switching the position of the trays halfway through. Transfer vegetables to a platter but keep the oven on and don't wash trays - you'll use them to roast the squash.
- Prepare and Roast the Squash: Lay the squash on it's side and cut it in half crosswise, through the middle (not through the root ends). Slice off each root end. Scoop out the seeds from each squash half so you have two hollow squash cylinders. Cut squash into ¼-inch slices crosswise, which will give you circles of squash. In a large bowl, toss squash rings with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread out into a single layer on the two rimmed baking sheets and cook in the top and bottom of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until soft, flipping squash and switching the position of the trays halfway through.
- Cook the Asparagus: Spread 1 tablespoon olive oil over the bottom of a large skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. Cook asparagus, shifting and tossing them gently, for 4-7 minutes, depending on how thin they are, until they are bright green, crisp-tender, and browned in spots. Transfer to a plate. For very fat asparagus add a tablespoon of water, cover the pot, and let them steam for a few minutes after browning.
- Assemble the Antipasto: Arrange vegetables on a platter. Drizzle everything with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons balsamic glaze or pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Add fennel fronds to garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Keywords: roasted vegetables, roasted fall vegetables, roasted winter vegetables, vegetable antipasto platter