“Pickled blueberries?” That piqued my interest. It was on the menu at Brine (www.brineoyster.com), one of my favorite restaurants on the North Shore. The minute I saw it I knew I wanted to try to make it on my own. And, I had just discovered an acre of wild blueberries at the Breakheart Reservation in Saugus – the tiny little blueberries that actually taste like, well, blueberries.

I don’t have any rigid rules when it comes to a beautiful antipasto plate, as long as it has some of the fundamentals. I love to mix it up with whatever food happens to be my favorite at that time. The pickled blueberry idea totally fit the bill. By the way, antipasto is a great way to keep stove-top cooking to a minimum in the summer.

For one antipasto plate use:

  • One piece of thinly sliced prosciutto de Parma
  • About 1/4 piece of burrata cheese
  • 5 or 6 pieces of different varieties of Heirloom tomatoes cut in small wedges and wheels and different color pear tomatoes some cut in half and some left whole
  • ¼ cup pickled blueberries placed on a strainer over a bowl (recipe below)
  • Mint and basil chiffonade
  • Basil oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Mint Pickled Blueberries:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 4 large mint sprigs wrapped cheese clothe and tied with string
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a day ahead. Put sugars, salt, and vinegar into sauce pan over low heat and stir to dissolve . Add mint and bring to simmer. Gently add blueberries, and cook for one minute or until they all turn dark blue. Take off heat and cool. Store in refrigerator over night.

Be creative with the presentation! I like to place everything in it’s own little section on a large white plate. If you really want it to look amazing, then it’s all about the garnish. Drizzle the basil oil on the tomatoes and around the plate. Then drizzle a little of the mint pickled blueberry liquid around the plate. Salt and pepper the tomatoes then sprinkle with the julienne mint and basil. Do you have any flowering herbs in your garden? Snip off the flowers and put those on too! Use your imagination, there are so many fresh options to choose from! I also love using locally made dry sausage, buffalo mozzarella, St. Agur blue cheese, sliced avocados, fresh peaches, picholine olives, or pickled purple carrots. Antipasto heaven!

Jimmy Smith is the founder, co-owner, and VP of Love Catering, Inc. (www.lovecateringinc.com) in Los Angeles, a full-service catering company to the stars… and their hanger’s-on. For the past seven years, he’s been a stay-at-home Dad and short-order cook for his partner and their seven year-old triplets in Topsfield, MA. Yes, triplets.