We (almost) always have the wherewithal in the house to fix a gorgeous and satisfying antipasto. That includes roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, olives (black and green), tuna in olive oil (I use this as the centerpiece on the platter), anchovies and cheese (it's OK if it's not Italian. All I usually have to acquire at the last minute are salami, cappacola, prosciutto or the like. And some Italian bread or French baguette.

Tomato crostini

Instead of one baguette, buy two, and use the second for colorful (and easy) morsels.

About 16 diagonal slices (3/4 inch thick) of baguette


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Cooking spray

About 4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

2 cups chopped plum tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped (pitted) kalamata olives

4 teaspoons capers, lightly rinsed, well drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Shredded parmesan cheese, garnish

Flat-leaf parsley sprigs, garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray tops and undersides of bread slices and arrange on baking sheets. Bake about 3 minutes on each side, until very lightly toasted. Let cool slightly. Rub garlic halves over top sides of toasted bread.

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, olives, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper. Divide tomato mixture among toasted baguette slices. Bake about 4 minutes, until well warmed. Remove from oven to platter(s). Sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley. Makes 16 crostini.

Tuscan beans

This antipasto-style dish makes a pleasant textural contrast to the above crostini. And only takes moments to fix. Some fresh Italian bread goes well with it. So does a red zinfandel.

1 medium red onion, chopped

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 cups canned white beans (e.g. cannellini or smaller), drained, rinsed, and drained again

2 cups crisp-tender cooked green beans in 1 1/2-inch pieces

1/3 to 1/2 cup best quality olive oil

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

16 ounces (2 cans) tuna packed in olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

In a small bowl, combine red onion and vinegar and let stand 15 minutes. Drain onions. In a large bowl, combine some of the olive oil with white beans, green beans and marinated onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasonings. Remove to a serving platter. Flake tuna and scatter over the beans. Top with chopped parsley. Makes about 10 servings.