Salami Antipasto Cups - Easy

One of my favorite co-workers chose to defect … I mean leave for a better job elsewhere. While other places of biz might bring in a cake or cookies during a quick afternoon break, our unofficial slogan is “any excuse for a party.” So after work, around 15 of us piled into our favorite party manse … I mean one of our personal homes, for a pot-luck blowout to send him off with fond memories.

My contribution was a platter of Salami Antipasto Cups. Wide, paper-thin slices of salami, baked into little flower-like “cups,” then stuffed with bits of lettuce, olives, tomatoes and other yummies, finished off with a drizzle of balsamic. Looks major-league impressive, but mad easy to whip up in advance so you can labor on something more important, like dessert.

I found the base recipe while researching for last season’s Oscar Appys workshop.   It was voted winner of the “most likely NOT to be a leftover” category. Or would have been, if I had thought of it in time (note to self – include voting in a few whimsical categories as part of my next food-related workshop).

There are several reasons why this recipe is great.  First, quantities and ingredients are not rigid. Love olives? Add a few more. Hate tomatoes or artichokes? Leave out completely, or sub in 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers or pimentos (unless you hate them more). Not kosher? Chop a dozen baby mozzarella balls and toss ‘em in. 
The other reason is that it travels well. Pop empty salami cups into one food-safe plastic bag or sealable container; toss the salad mixture into another. When you get to your destination, fill the cups and serve (optionally take off your coat first).
I use the term “cherry” tomato generically here. Any teensy-tinesy tomato will do. I prefer grape tomatoes myself, but the local Try-N-Save had minis called “cherubs” which were kind of like the grape variety but with a pointy end. Looked cute and tasted like they were fresh-picked that morning.

In case you do not know what “julienne” means, it’s just a fancy-schmancy term for tightly rolling up the basil leaves together, then slicing or scissoring into thin shreds. Tear the leaves by hand if you prefer.

TIP ALERT! A grapefruit knife makes a great substitute for a tomato knife, especially with tiny cherry tomatoes, which always squirts juice everywhere when using a regular knife. Just avoid the slight bent tip while cutting to reduce the juice in the eye thing, which is like grapefruit juice in the eye, but a lot less painful.

Salami Antipasto Cups - Easy
Adapted from: Food Network
Yield: 24 appetizer servings

24 deli-thin slices of wide salami (about 4 inches in diameter)
1 loosely packed cup of baby salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, very well drained then coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
10 large basil leaves, julienned
1/4 cup sliced black olives, well drained
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Poke a slice of salami into each cup of a muffin tin to create a pretty fluted shape.  If salami fights you and/or tries to escape, see next step.

For a 12-cup muffin tin, tear off six 6-inch lengths aluminum foil. For a 6-cup tin, tear off 3 lengths (you get the idea). Cut each foil piece in half; crumble each into a tight ball. Push one foil ball into the center of each salami slice to help retain its fluted shape during baking. 

Place muffin tin on center rake in preheated oven.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges start to crisp up (watch towards the end of baking to make sure salami doesn't burn). Remove tin from oven. Remove and reserve foil balls. Transfer cups to a plate; allow them to cool completely. Repeat with remaining salami and reserved foil balls.

Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients except salt in a mixing bowl and gently toss. Taste, then add salt if needed.

If not serving immediately, cover and store salami cups and salad mixture separately in the fridge, up to 4 hours.

When about ready to serve, place salami cups on a serving platter. Toss salad mixture again, then spoon 1-2 tablespoons of salad mixture into cups (amount depends upon how fluted the cups are). Serve cool or at room temperature.