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Spicy Vegetarian Antipasto for 2

Antipasto is an Italian phrase that literally means, a dish before the pasta.
And we often think of an antipasto as a platter of cold cuts and cheese, but what if you felt like a much lighter fare? 

Birds eye view of a vegetarian antipasto platter

I love this antipasto platter for that reason and SO many more.

  • Not only is this recipe made from scratch, but the ingredients don’t come from a can or a jar.
  • The tastes are clean and simple and the look is uncluttered. This is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like a lot of vinegar-tasting nibbles (that’s me!) or gets overwhelmed with seeing a lot of food jumbled together.
  • The platter is clean! It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan, and has no safflower or canola oils.
  • There are no crackers or flatbread here either. You’re using bok choy stems and baked onion slices to dip-n-scoop.  

(This recipe is inspired by one of my subscribers, Patricia, who recently asked for an antipasto salad.)  

Lentil mushrooms in a bowl - the centre piece of the platter

Learn how to make a complete vegetarian antipasto platter with these easy steps

Tip of lentils peeking out over top of bowl
Stack your lentils tall so they peek over the bowl's edge
Spicy onion garnish
Spicy onion garnish is optional but delicious
Hand holding bok choy stem loaded with lentil curry
Bok choy stems and baked onion chunks make gluten-free dippers

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 40-50 minutes
Soaking time: 1 hour
Thawing time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1.5 hours (most of this is done at the same time)
Oven temperature: 350 degrees F (175 degrees C or Gas Mark 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion for baking
  • 1/2 large onion for a spicy garnish
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger root
  • 1-2 bok choy
  • 1/2 cup green or sprouted lentils
  • 1 cup dehydrated mushrooms
  • 2 cups vegetarian stock
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh cilantro, chives, or parsley for garnish

If you don't have all of these Indian spices?

Depending on where you live, some spices are hard to find, if not impossible to get. As well, if you find you don’t often cook with Indian spices but want to try this recipe, I suggest purchasing a variety pack similar to this one. Now, you’ll have a little of every spice to try, which makes cooking a lot of fun. This spice pack doesn’t have fennel seeds, but fenugreek seeds are just as interesting . . . as are cumin seeds. You could try 1/4 teaspoon of each! Now you’ll still have the equivalent of 1/2 teaspoon of seeds, and you won’t overcrowd your dish with too many tastes. Here’s the WOW with this idea: you’ll have curry leaves!!! Curry leaves are hard for me to find.  They’re similar to a bay leaf in that they give your sauce a much deeper flavor. 
Sprouted lentils in a white bowl
Sprouted lentils before they are boiled in stock

Equipment

  • 8″ chef’s knife
  • 4″ vegetable knife
  • chopping board
  • colander
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • zester or grater
  • medium pot
  • small 8″ frying pan (I used 2 for this recipe, a cast-iron for the onions and non-stick for the bok choy and curry sauce)
  • tongs
  • kitchen shears
  • aluminium foil
  • baking tray
  • oven mitts
  • large sieve
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 4-5 small bowls (for bok choy, chopped baked onions, spicy garnish onions, and garlic paste)
  • serving platter or a series of small bowls
  • small jar to make garlic infused olive oil with leftovers

Instead of a platter sometimes I like to use a series of small, similar bowls, which also makes it easier to clean up after!
Once you have 3-4 small bowls you love, you’ll find yourself using them over and over again.

I like these small bowls made from concrete. 
These not only make a great conversation starter but their soft white with muted grey colours work with all food – the reds, oranges, greens and browns.
And, they look great as a standalone bowl when not in use.

If you love wood platters, this board is made from black walnut with a live edge.
I was given one as a gift that’s similar to this and love its versatility for serving.

Mashed garlic in olive oil
Add leftover garlic paste to a small jar of olive oil for salad dressings later

* Before you start any cooking

Remove container or frozen vegetable stock from freezer to start thawing.
Either thaw in a microwave or sit the container in a pan of warm water and allow 30 minutes.
If you don’t have vegetable stock, chicken or turkey is delicious too. (Just remember that the recipe is no longer vegetarian or vegan). 
And if you have no stock, either make some right now or use water.

onion and garlic on a chopping board with aluminium foil in the background

Onion and Garlic Directions

  • Wrap 1 whole garlic clove (skin on) and 1 whole onion (skin on) in foil.

Tip: Squeeze the package and remember how hard the onion is. This is handy for later so you know the onion is cooked. 

  • Place the onion and garlic package on a tray and bake at 350 degrees F (180 C) for 30-45 minutes or until fragrant and soft when pressed.

  • When done, remove and open the foil packet.

  • Let onion and garlic completely cool.

Advantages to baking onion whole:
This cuts down cooking time later.
As well, onion set aside for the platter will be sweet, cooked yet firm, with a chic, fresh look.

Advantages to baking garlic whole:
Baking brings out the rich flavors and smooths out the bite that fresh garlic has.
Using already baked garlic makes your cooking time much quicker.
Any leftover garlic paste can be stored in a small jar of olive oil for dipping fresh crusty bread or cooking with.

Bok choy leaves separated from the stems on a chopping board with a sharp knife
Bok choy

While onion and garlic bake

Prepare the bok choy.

  • Cut the base of the bok choy and discard for composting.
    Trim away each stem from the base.

  • Place bok choy in a colander and rinse to remove any grit. Allow water to drain away.

  • Cut each stem in half, one with the leaf, the other the stem, or stalk. Separate in two piles.  

  • Fill a medium-sized mixing bowl with chilled water for blanching.

  • Fill a small pot to 3/4 with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.

  • Add the bok choy leaves and cook until limp, 1-2 minutes.

  • Remove leaves with tongs and blanch in chilled water to stop any further cooking.

  • Add bok choy stems and cook for 1 minute, just enough to partially soften them.
    You want them to still be firm.

  • Add stems to the chilled water to stop any further cooking.

  • Drain blanched bok choy and separate into two bowls.
  • Refrigerate both.

Notes:
Stems are used as dippers while the leaves are sauteed in olive oil, baked garlic, and sea salt as part of the salad.

Dehydrated mushrooms on a board
Dehydrated mushrooms

Once the stock has thawed

Prepare the mushrooms.

  • Pour the stock into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add 1 cup of dehydrated mushrooms.

  • Stir and leave to soak for one hour to make sure all mushrooms have softened.

  • Hold a large sieve over a large mixing bowl and strain the mushrooms.
    Reserve the stock for cooking lentils later.

Notes: the mushrooms will darken which is fine as they’re going into the lentil curry. 

I dehydrate my mushrooms all the time to reduce food waste.
It’s easy to do and if you’d like to learn how to dehydrate your own mushrooms, I show you here.

Baked mashed garlic squeezed into a bowl
WARNING: squeezing out baked garlic is a sticky job (but worth it!)

While mushrooms soak

Prepare onions and garlic.

Garlic

  • peel back as much papery skin on the bulb as possible.

  • Snip the tips from each garlic clove with kitchen shears.

  • Squeeze each clove to extract the garlic paste. You may need to use a knife as well.
    Catch or scrape all paste into a small bowl.

Onion

  • Using a chef’s 8″ knife, remove the onion base where the roots grew and discard.

  • Peel back the skin and discard.

  • Cut the onion in half. The onion is soft, so please use a sharp knife when cutting.

  • Lay one-half of onion face down and cut in half lengthwise, then half again.
    Add onion pieces to a small bowl.
    These will go on the platter.

  • Lay the other half face down and cut in half lengthwise, then half again, and half again. 
    Place in a small bowl for the curry sauce later.
Chilli flakes on onion and garlic in frying pan
Cooking onions slowly brings out their natural sweetness in a cast iron frying pan

Next up!

Prepare the spicy onion garnish.

  • Cut 1 large onion in half.
    Wrap and refrigerate one half and peel the other.

  • With a sharp 4″ vegetable knife, slice the onion as thinly as possible.

  • Scrape onion slices into a small (8″) frying pan and add a little olive oil (less than 2 teaspoons) and a small pinch of sea salt.

  • Turn heat to MEDIUM-LOW and stir onions until they are coated with olive oil. 

  • Once onions turn brown on the edges (see photo above), add 1 teaspoon garlic paste and a small pinch of chilli flakes (approximately 8-10 flakes).

  • Stir until well mixed and cook a further 5 minutes.

  • Turn off heat and allow flavors to relax and mingle before you scrap the onion mixture out and into a small bowl.

  • Keep spicy onions at room temperature for the platter.
Straining rehydrated mushrooms over a sieve on a bowl
Straining mushrooms through a sieve

While spicy garnish onions are cooking

  • Rinse lentils under running water and leave in the sieve to drain.

  • Place a large sieve on top of a large bowl and strain mushrooms.

  • Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl for the curry.

  • Transfer stock to a medium pot, turn heat to HIGH and bring to a boil.

  • Turn heat down to MEDIUM-LOW and add rinsed lentils.

  • Cook until almost tender but still firm inside because you’ll finish cooking them in the curry.

  • Place a large sieve on top of a large bowl and strain lentils.
    Save dishes and leave them in the sieve as the lentils are going straight into the curry from here.

  • Reserve the stock for your curry.
Bok choy in frying pan with baked mashed garlic

Making the bok choy

To save washing too many pans, we’ll cook the bok choy first, then carry on cooking the curry in the same pan.
I’ve switched from a cast iron pan to a non-stick here, but you don’t need to.
I’d changed over because my new cast iron pan isn’t seasoned enough for a sauce yet, so my sauces tend to stick right now.

  • Add 1 small teaspoon of garlic paste and 2 teaspoons olive oil to a medium-sized (8″) frying pan.

  • Spread the garlic paste out and add bok choy leaves.

  • Cook on MEDIUM heat and gently stir until warm and fragrant.
  • Remove from pan with tongs and set aside in a small bowl for the platter.

  • Add a little more olive oil, and the chopped onions, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, and freshly grated ginger. Stir and cook on MEDIUM heat until fragrant.

  • Add 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. 

  • Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes before adding 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.

  • Stir again and once you can smell the turmeric, add the lentils, chopped mushrooms, and stock.

  • Turn heat to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for 20 minutes while you prepare the platter for serving.
Curry spices with seeds and ginger
Fresh ginger, fennel, and yellow mustard seeds are added to the onion and garlic

Making the curry sauce

  • Add a little more olive oil to the same frying pan and the chopped onions, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, and freshly grated ginger.
  • Add 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds.
  • Stir until evenly mixed and cook on MEDIUM heat. 
Adding turmeric
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes before adding 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.
  • Keep the pan on the heat. Stir until everything is well mixed before adding lentils, chopped mushrooms, and stock.
  • Turn heat down to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the platter for serving.
Planning out the platter

Just before serving

  • Decide what bowl you’ll use for the curry and position it on the platter.

  • Arrange piles of garlic-scented bok choy leaves, baked onion chunks, and bok choy stems around the bowl. If you have room add the spicy onion garnish or serve in a separate small bowl.

  • Now carefully remove the bowl.
    Scoop a generous amount of lentil curry inside the bowl, keeping most of the liquid back in the pot.

  • Add the bowl back to the platter.

  • Garnish with your choice of fresh chopped herbs.
Antipasto vegetarian platter
From (L) to (R): fresh cilantro, garlic bok choy leaves, bok choy stems, baked onion pieces

I’d taken the overhead photo before realizing I’d forgotten to add the spicy onion garnish! 
Lesson learned: keep all your prepared bowls together so you don’t miss one.
If you do the same, just rearrange your patter a little more.

Birds eye view of a vegetarian antipasto platter

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Read my full disclosure here.

If you can grab just one cast iron frying pan, I recommend an 8″ for frying onions, ginger, garlic and spices to then make a small amount of sauce.

You may have noticed in the photos I have a Shun knife and yes, I use it all the time.
It makes the BEST gift for anyone who enjoys cooking.

You may have also noticed I use an Epicurean chopping board.
They too make a great gift!

If you get a chance to try sprouted green lentils, they are firmer than regular green lentils and don’t mush up while cooking.

Spicy Vegetarian Antipasto Platter

A spicy vegetarian take on the antipasto platter. Suitable for vegans, this platter is gluten and dairy-free, low in calories and high in fiber.

The recipe is designed to build a platter for two.

Course Appetizer, Lunch, Main Course, Salad, Snacks
Cuisine Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword dairy-free, easy, gluten-free
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Soaking time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 473 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger root
  • 2 bok choy
  • 1 cup mushrooms dehydrated
  • 1/2 cup green lentils sprouted
  • 2 cups stock vegetarian
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Remove vegetarian stock from the freezer and begin to thaw.

    If you have none, add a carrot, celery stick, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, and fesh herbs to a large pot of water. Bring stock to a boil and simmer until needed.

  2. Wrap one whole onion and garlic bulb in aluminium foil. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until soft when pressed. Remove from oven, open the packet and allow to cool.

  3. Wash, trim and cut bok choy, separating leaves from stalks. Set both aside.

  4. Snip each clove of garlic with kitchen shears and squeeze garlic paste into a small bowl.

    Peel and roughly chop onion into pieces big enough to act as a dip-n-scoop. Add half the onion pieces to a small bowl until ready to serve.

    Reserve the other half for the curry.

Spicy Onion Garnish

  1. Thinly slice half an onion.

    Add olive oil to a small frying pan and add the onion. Gently fry until soft and translucent.

  2. Add 1 tsp garlic paste, 8-10 chilli flakes and freshly grated ginger. Stir and cook until fragrant and golden brown.

  3. Add spicy onion garnish to a small bowl until ready to serve.

  4. In a medium pot, boil lentils in stock until cooked but still firm. Strain lentils and reserve the stock for later.

Prepare Bok Choy

  1. Barely cook then blanch bok choy leaves. When cool, add to a sieve to drain.

    Repeat for the bok choy stems. Once cool, place in a small bowl until ready to serve. These are also dip-n-scoops.

  2. Add olive oil and 1 teaspoon garlic paste to a small frying pan. Spread the garlic out before adding a pinch of sea salt and steamed bok choy leaves. Stir until warm and fragrant.

    Transfer to a small bowl until ready to serve.

Making the Curry

  1. Add olive oil and half of the chopped baked onion to a medium frying pan. Cook until warmed through.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon garlic paste, fresh ginger, fennel and yellow mustard seeds.

    Stir until well mixed then add turmeric.

    Once fragrant, add the stock and simmer lentils for 20 minutes while you prepare the platter.

To Serve

  1. On a platter, arrange bowls or ingredients around a small serving bowl reserved for the curry lentil sauce. Remove the bowl and add the lentils.

    Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve!

Recipe Notes

A healthy alternative to the traditional antipasto platter, this salad combination is gluten-free, dairy-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Vegetarian Antipasto Platter
Amount Per Serving
Calories 473 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 1645mg72%
Potassium 2863mg82%
Carbohydrates 62g21%
Fiber 25g104%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 38069IU761%
Vitamin C 389mg472%
Calcium 939mg94%
Iron 11mg61%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Comments

  1. This looks so interesting and delicious and it`s a great vegan appetizer! I love your photos!

  2. Thanks, Denise, it is perfect for vegans! I hope you get a chance to try it out.

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