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Antipasto Salad with Peperoncini Vinaigrette

An array of Italian cured meats and cheese inspired this lively chopped salad, topped with zesty peperoncini. The plate becomes especially pretty if you use a mixture of red and yellow cherry tomatoes. Accompany with toasted slices of garlicky sourdough bread for texture.

Ingredients:

For the crostini:

  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sourdough baguette
  • Salt, to taste

For the peperoncini vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 5 peperoncini, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
      lengthwise
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3 avocados
  • 8 oz. (250 g) provolone cheese, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm)
      cubes
  • 1 to 2 cups (1 to 2 oz./30 to 60 g) arugula leaves, stemmed
  • 10 oz. (315 g) thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:

To make the crostini, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

In a bowl, stir together the olive oil and garlic. Cut the baguette into 18 slices, each about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with the garlic oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Toast in the oven until crisp and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, peperoncini, oregano, sugar and salt. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking until the dressing is well blended.

In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the 1/4 tsp. salt and let stand until they release their juices, about 5 minutes, then drain. Pit and peel the avocados and cut them crosswise into slices about 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt.

Arrange the tomatoes, avocados, cheese and arugula on a large platter. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, then drizzle it over the arranged salad. Arrange the prosciutto and crostini on the platter and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012).