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Old 12-22-2003, 04:56 PM   #1
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Antipasto Salad with Basil Dressing

ANTIPASTO SALAD WITH BASIL DRESSING

Roasted bell peppers, proscuitto, and olives are added to the classic Italian trio of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Serve with plenty of crusty country bread.

2 large red bell peppers
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound thinly sliced proscuitto
2 8-ounce balls fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, thinly sliced into rounds
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pitted, coarsely chopped

Char peppers directly over gas flame or under broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and slice peppers thinly.

Combine basil leaves, garlic, and salt in processor and blend to coarse puree. With machine running, gradually blend in oil. Transfer basil oil to small bowl. (Peppers and basil oil can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.) Arrange proscuitto around edge of platter. Arrange cheese slices within circle of proscuitto and tomatoes within circle of cheese. Tuck in egg slices; top with pepper strips. Sprinkle salad with olives; drizzle with some basil oil. Serve with remaining basil oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

NOTE: I did the hard boiled egg one time but that's it. They didn't add anything "special" to the dish and it's much simpler without them.

I will also add a layer of mixed lettuce under all of this to make it "expand" and to serve more as a salad too.

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