Vegetable Antipasti Plate

This vegetable antipasti platter uses simple, straightforward techniques to not only preserve eggplant, wild mushrooms, and slow-roasted tomatoes, but to concentrate and intensify their flavors.

Mushrooms, eggplant, and tomatoes in a bowl and two vegetable antipasti plates.

Preserving vegetables in oil is a long-established means of saving a glut of summer produce for scarcer months. Roasting tomatoes very slowly in oil preserves them, intensifies their flavor and gives them a silky melt-in-the-mouth texture. I like to griddle my eggplant to give them a slight smokiness before preserving. These lightly pickled wild mushrooms are delicious and extremely versatile. My guilty pleasure is piling them high on a piece of toast slathered in homemade labneh.

[Editor’s Note: You can choose to make any individual component of these or you can make ‘em all at once. If the latter, make them in the order they appear, beginning with the tomatoes and making the eggplant and mushrooms while the tomatoes are in the oven.]–Theo Michaels

How can I serve this vegetable antipasti plate?

These Italian-style mushrooms, eggplant, and tomatoes are delicious served as an antipasti plate with plenty of rustic bread for dipping in the seasoned oil. To make a more substantial grazing board you could add some good marinated olives, a few chunks of Parmesan, a fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese and/or slices of cured Italian meats. These vegetables also work brilliantly as an ingredient in a host of recipes, from salads to pasta dishes, or do as I do and just spoon them straight onto some bread rubbed with garlic to enjoy as a sneaky snack.

Vegetable Antipasti Plate

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 4 H, 30 M
  • Serves 6 to 8
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Ingredients

  • For the oven-roasted tomatoes
  • For the preserved eggplant
  • For the preserved wild mushrooms

Directions

Make the oven-roasted tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).

Halve each tomato, cutting from the top down through the stalk, and then squeeze gently to pop out the watery flesh and seeds or use a spoon to scoop them out.

Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer in a deep-sided roasting pan or baking dish. Pour in just enough oil to fully cover the bottom of the dish.

Add the thyme sprig, scatter the garlic slices over the top, sprinkle with the sugar, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Bake until the tomatoes have dried out and become wrinkled, 2 to 4 hours.

Tester tip: The size of your tomatoes will affect your cooking time. Smaller cherry tomatoes will be cooked much sooner than larger beefsteak or roma tomatoes.

Transfer to a 3-cup capacity jar, topping up with additional olive oil if needed. Store in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks.

Make the preserved eggplant

Place a colander over a bowl, add the sliced eggplant, and sprinkle with salt. Place a small plate and a heavy can or other weight on top and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

Discard any liquid that collected in the bowl. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water and then squeeze them dry with a clean towel.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until almost but not quite smoking. Lightly brush with oil and then cook the eggplant slices until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the vinegar and cold water and bring to a boil. Once you’ve got a rolling boil going, drop the eggplant slices in and cook for 2 minutes.

Move the eggplant slices to a rimmed baking sheet and slide them into the oven for 15 minutes.

In a sterilized 3-cup capacity jar, combine the oils and the oregano, thyme, garlic, and chile, give it a gentle shake, and add the eggplant slices, ensuring they’re fully submerged in the oil. Screw on the lid, store in the fridge, and eat within 2 weeks.

Make the preserved wild mushrooms

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, mustard, bay leaves, salt, and sugar. Add the cold water and bring to a boil.

Drop in the mushrooms and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for about 12 minutes, agitating them a little by poking with a wooden spoon as they cook.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the mushrooms out of the cooking liquid onto a clean tea towel/dish cloth (it’s okay to leave some of the mustard seeds behind) and gently pat dry.

Spread them out on the lined baking sheet and bake until just dried out, 20 to 25 minutes.

In a 2-cup capacity sterilized jar, combine the olive and vegetable oils and add the mushrooms. Make sure they are submerged in oil (top up with more if any are not). Seal and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Originally published December 19, 2020.

Print RecipeBuy the Rustica: Delicious Recipes for Village-Style Mediterranean Food cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I made the preserved wild mushrooms. I used some local porcini mushrooms that I found at a farmer's market on Cape Cod. These mushrooms were the star of antipasto picnic platter—earthy, buttery, and irresistible eaten straight out of the jar or piled high on a piece of crusty bread.

I placed half the mushrooms in a bowl and sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes over the top, which gave the mushrooms a perfect amount of kick. I also enjoyed them with a piece of fresh basil, so I think I have my sights set on topping pasta with these mushrooms and some chopped basil. We also had some fresh farmer's cheese made from cow's milk, a sharp Cheddar, bread slices, hummus, and fresh red peppers.

I dried them on a clean dish towel and placed them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It took 25 minutes for the mushrooms to be dried out.

After covering with oil in a covered jar, I refrigerated the mushrooms for 24 hours before enjoying them.

I specifically tested the preserved wild mushrooms in oil and the oven-roasted tomatoes in oil.

The mushrooms were quite good. I used cultivated cremini mushrooms…but look forward to using wild mushrooms next time for even better results. I mostly had to cut them in half or even quarters. The vinegar flavor was a bit strong and astringent; I might add more mustard next time to provide a slightly rounder flavor. The texture of the mushrooms after boiling and drying was surprisingly nice—not spongy or unpleasant, as you might expect.

We enjoyed them out of the jar as we would pickles, although I imagine that combining them with hummus or labneh on grilled bread slices or in a green, leafy salad would have been very nice, too. Next time!

I didn’t appreciate the need for using two different oils when jarring the mushrooms to save in the fridge. I’ll probably just stick with EVOO.

These tomatoes were wonderful—and a bit addictive! I’ve made them twice now and will substitute this version for all my other oven-dried tomato recipes going forward. I think the key to these umami-rich little gems is the de-seeding and removal of the watery flesh. Most other recipes don’t include that step and with it, the end result is pure, intense tomato.

I also like the inclusion of garlic, although I’d suggest using a few more cloves. (But then whenever you say 2 cloves garlic, I will always read that as 4 cloves of garlic! Can you ever have enough??!) The pinch of brown sugar was interesting and unusual, but also beneficial to the end result. I used Campari tomatoes for one test and Roma tomatoes for a second test. I preferred the riper Camparis.

One change I will make next time: I didn’t see the need for so much oil during the roasting. I think the recipe would work just as well with much less than 1 3/4 cups. As long as the tomatoes have a low bath of oil on the bottom of the pan, they will come out just as plump and soft. Depending upon the size of the roasting pan used, I might reduce that to 1 cup. I used an oval ceramic casserole that kept the tomatoes close together and the oil contained. As written with the full measurement of oil, the tomatoes are more of a confit (bathed in oil), but I think I would prefer having less oil and allowing a bit of browning and caramelization along the exposed edges of the tomatoes when cooked with less oil.

All in all, this is a clever recipe, and one I’ll make frequently, as it would seem to work well with both beautiful summer tomatoes as well as with less wonderful winter selections, which will actually improve for the oven roasting.

In addition to using on a cheese or charcuterie board, we’ve enjoyed these on sandwiches, in pasta, as part of a pan sauce for sautéed chicken or fish, and straight out of the jar for an intensely flavorful snack.

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