My mom’s side of the family is New Jersey Italian, and we’re very proud of it. My mom makes homemade “gravy” (pasta sauce), we think Olive Garden is a blasphemy, and Christmas Eve brings us the feast of the seven fishes. And most importantly, we don’t pronounce the last vowel of Italian food words. For example, “manicotti” becomes “man-ee-got,” “mozzarella” becomes “mootza-rell,” and “proscuitto” becomes “pro-shute.”
It’s a little weird. But it’s a thing. Get over it. In fact, fuhgeddaboudit. Ehh, no — too far. I take that back.
Anyway, when I made these delicious antipasto skewers (“anti-pahst” skewers) for my dad’s Pennsylvania side of the family on Christmas day, all sense of NJ pronunciation was lost. I just called them “tortellini, pepper, and olive skewers.” However, they were still thoroughly enjoyed! Both side of the family like to eat. Hmm…not surprising, then, that I like to eat as much as I do…
1 package of mini tortellini, such as Butoni brand, from the refrigerated deli section (about 50 tortellini)
1.5 cups of pitted kalamata olives
1 cup (about 1 small jar) of marinated, roasted red peppers
50 toothpicks or other party skewers
1. Boil a small pot of water, salt it, and cook the tortellini according to package instructions until al dente (about 7 minutes).
2. While the tortellini is cooking, cut the roasted red peppers into bite-sized pieces.
3. When the tortellini is done, drain it and shock it with cold water until cool enough to handle. Lay out on paper towels and gently pat dry.
3. Using a toothpick, skewer a piece of roasted red pepper. Then, place a tortellini on your serving platter and stick the toothpick (with the roasted red pepper on it) in it. This is sort of tough to describe. But if you do it the other way and pick up the tortellini and then skewer it, when you place it back down it might not lay flat and provide you with a good base for your little skewer. So it’s best to let it be flat and then just place the toothpick in it like a flagpole. Play around with it. You guys are smart, you’ll figure it out.
4. Repeat with remaining roasted red pepper and tortellini.
5. Add the olives by sliding an olive onto the top of each skewer.
How cute and easy are they? My family was gushing about them and I kept assuring everyone how easy they were to make. I like to serve them at room temperature but they taste good cold, too. You can substitute mini ravioli or switch out sundried tomatoes for the roasted red peppers; whatever suits your fancy. And you can easily make them for a large or small group — buy only as many olives as you need and freeze whatever tortellini you have left over.
Enjoy! Or as my mom’s family would say, enjoy! (What were you expecting? We do speak English, you know. We really only mangle the food words :))
Adapted from Mele Cotte.