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There is nothing nicer than an Italian antipasti on a hot summer’s day. It’s simple, can be prepared in advanced and is a great lunch to have with friends. I always make the vegetable antipasti the night before so all the flavours blend together over night. It is hard to source good quality veg in Ireland but I think Lidl are definitley the best for veg at the moment and I always buy my aubergines and courgettes there, they have a good selection of Italian meats and mozzarella too. Superquinn stock everything you need also and have the Rovagnati range of meats which are still my favourite pre-packed meats. We have a really good buffalo mozzarella for anyone living in Limerick from the south of Italy and is definitely the best I have tasted in Ireland.

The whole point of antipasti is the quality of ingredients so try and get your hands on the best you can, this includes using good sea salt and olive oil. Finding good tomatoes is always the biggest issue in Ireland, Superquinn do very good Italian cherry tomatoes but it’s very hard to find a sweet beef tomato, I got these large plum tomatoes in Lidl and although they weren’t fantastic they were the best I could find.

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First up is Caprese, probably the simplest and tasiest salad you can make. Just slice some mozzarella, tomato, season with sea salt, pepper and a little dried oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with plenty of basil.

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serve a platter of parma ham, mortadella and salami….

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Marinated courgettes! cut your courgette into slices and cook on a heated grill pan or bbq. Leave to cool. In a bowl mix some olive oil, white wine vinegar, thinly sliced garlic, flat leaf parsley, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Layer your courgettes, season and pour some of your dressing over each layer. Leave to marinate over night.

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Marinated aubergines! Slice your aubergines into disks, sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander for about 30 mins to release the bitter juices. Heat a grill pan or bbq and cook in batches. Layer your aubergines, season, drizzle each layer with olive oil, add sliced garlic and basil leaves. Leave to marinate over night.

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serve with some grilled Italian bread drizzled with olive oil……

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