Cooking is not just warming food to fill your stomach when you are hungry.
Cooking is choosing ingredients carefully to prepare something healthy and tasty. Cooking is taking the time to prepare things together with the people you love and for the people you love. Cooking is sharing your knowledge with others and learning something new. Cooking is making memories for the future. Moreover, have you ever thought that eating something is one of the greatest act of faith? That’s what makes cooking so important.
The antipasto piemontese has always been part of my life. I live in Liguria, but my mother comes from Piemonte and this means that she cooks mainly recipes belonging to the Piedmontese tradition. When I was a kid, the antipasto piemontese was one of the many starters of Sunday lunches. Even if it is a recipe full of summer, it has always reminded me of winter days and long, lazy lunches by the fire at my grandma’s.
When I grew up and left my parents’ house to attend university, jars and jars of aperitivo piemontese filled my suitcase, ready to be eaten when I most needed some proper food or just missed home. Afterward, when I started living on my own, every summer my mom prepared an additional dose of aperitivo piemontese for my pantry, making sure I had something to eat when I came home from work and was just too tired – or too lazy – to cook something.
For years and years, it has always been something I ate. Now that my mother is getting old, it has become something I cook. It started a while ago and now it’s getting some kind of tradition. Every year, towards the end of summer, my mother calls me and asks me when I would be free for a big antipasto piemontese session. I have to admit that every year I dread such call, because preparing this recipe is a long and tiring process – if you want to make enough jars to feed an army, like my mother does. It involves a lot of cutting and washing of vegetables and I always end with aching hands, but then I think that it is precious time I get to spend with my mother and I am happy with it.
Moreover, mom is getting old and learning to cook what she cooks is just another way to bring her memory in the future with me.
Well, I have been talking of this antipasto piemontese for a while now, it’s definitely time I tell you what it is. First of all, antipasto piemontese is its Italian name, but I have always known it as bun aptit, which means “buon appetito” (enjoy your meal) in Piedmontese dialect. It is basically a mixture of vegetables in tomato sauce, which you prepare in big quantities to be saved for the winter. It can be eaten alone, on slices of bread, as a side dish for meat dishes like bollito (boiled meat) or you can add some tuna fish to it and have a perfect full dish. As these two recipes I shared last year, it’s another way to put summer in a jar.
2.5 kilos of ripe tomatoes
300 grams of cauliflowers
300 grams of carrots
300 grams of celery
300 grams of green beans
300 grams of baby onions
300 grams of peppers
2 glasses of vinegar
1 glass of olive oil
chili pepper powder
1 spoon of sugar
1 handful of salt
Run the tomatoes through a food mill, mix them with all other ingredients but the vegetables (vinegar, oil, chili pepper powder, nutmeg, sugar, and salt), put the mixture in a big pot and put it on the stove. Once they start boiling, add cauliflowers, carrots and celery. Let them boil for 15 minutes, then add the green beans. Once the mixture starts boiling again, let it boil for 10 minutes and then add the baby onions. Let them boil for 8 minutes, then add the peppers. The peppers have to boil for 3 to 5 minutes maximum, once they are done the antipasto is ready. Put it into sterilized jars once it is still warm, close tightly and let it rest for at least one month. Enjoy!