Calabrese Antipasto

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In my childhood home in California’s Central Valley, this antipasto was far and away the favorite and the most frequently on the table. It was an attempt to re-create a taste my parents brought from southern Italy, using the products they could find here. You can buy a similar antipasto in many Italian delis today, but it’s easy to make your own. I make it for parties because you can assemble it ahead, and the recipe makes a massive amount. My mother would can it, but it also lasts for at least a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Calabrese Antipasto is the comfort food I reach for when I come home from work late. With some chunks of ciabatta (a large, crusty, slipper-shaped loaf) and a glass of white wine, I’m content.

NotesMy kids have always enjoyed making this dish with me because there are so many little jars to open. Make the recipe your own by substituting your favorite pickled or preserved foods, then passing the recipe on to your own children.

Cooking Methodpickling, preserving


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseantipasto/mezze, hors d'oeuvre

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturecrunchy, salty, tangy


  • 1 cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagnnal into ½.-inch-thick slices
  • 4 inner celery ribs, cut on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¾ pound small fresh button mushrooms
  • 1 jar (7½ ounces) peperoncini (pickled green peppers)
  • 1 can (7 ounces or 200 grams) imported olive oil-packed tuna, drained
  • 1 tin (2 ounces) anchovies with capers, drained
  • 1 can (3 ounces) pitted black olives, drained
  • 1 jar (5 ounces) pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) baby kosher dill pickles, drained and sliced % inch thick
  • 1 jar (7½ ounces) pickled onions, drained
  • 2 jars (6½ ounces each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Cayenne pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Blanch the cauliflower for about 2 minutes; it should still be crisp. With a skimmer, transfer the florets to a tray to cool quickly. Repeat with the carrots and then with the celery, cooking them just long enough to remove their raw taste; they will be cooked more later.

  2. Add the white wine vinegar to the water and blanch the mushrooms for 1 minute. (The vinegar will keep the mushrooms white.) Drain and spread the mushrooms on a tray to cool quickly.

  3. Put the cauliflower, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Add the peperoncini, tuna, anchovies, olives, pickles, onions, and artichoke hearts. Toss well.

  4. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden. Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, tarragon vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the contents of the bowl. Stir well, then cover and simmer gently until the carrots are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate.


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