Lasagne is a popular Italian food with alternating layers of wide noodles, sauce, cheeses and sometimes spinach. Whether you are preparing a vegetarian or meat version, the entrée is known to be quite filling for dinner. If you have guests or want to offer appetizers for the family meal, consider several options to serve in anticipation of the heavy fare.
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Fresh, light salads often are welcome before the big main course. You can make the simple basic green salad or you can get creative with beets and goat cheese or baby greens in olive oil and lemon juice. Select fresh mozzarella balls, slice them thinly and layer over fresh basil. Top with thin slices of tomato. Sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil to serve. Spinach salad is an option if you don't add spinach to the lasagne itself. Another healthy salad to start with is endive with cooked baby shrimp and crumbled blue cheese. Toss in a few walnuts and a couple slices of sweet tangerine for extra appeal.
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Arrange a variety of olives on a bed of fresh basil leaves. The best European olives are Nicoise, Kalamata and Gaeta. Black or green, olives are an easy appetizer to share. Some fresh markets and delis keep these in stock, usually in a marinade. Add a few slices of speciality goat cheese for a weightier beginning. Serve the tray with Prosecco for a refreshing contrast. Prosecco is a dry, white sparkling Italian wine. Some people just start with the wine as a light appetizer or serve with long, thin, home-baked breadsticks. Salted or unsalted work just fine.
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Build an antipasto platter for a premeal treat. Typical items to include are a variety of Italian salamis, prosciutto (Italian thin-sliced ham), marinated artichokes, olives, cherry tomatoes, pepperoncinis and thin slices of various cheeses. Go light on the cheese portions because the lasagne will have plenty. Some people add radishes, anchovies, slices of fresh green and red pepper. For vegetarians, leave the meat (and maybe the cheese) off the platter. Fill in with long slices of cucumber to dunk into a light yoghurt, sour cream and dill dip.
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Fruit and Spumoni
Some people like very light fruits in anticipation of a heavier course like lasagne. A simple bowl of fresh grapes can be a nice starter. Orange slices, pomegranate and melons work, too. When serving very sweet fruits, you might enjoy a little Campari liqueur as an aperitif. It's a bitter but quite popular Italian beverage. Add a few breadsticks or fresh Italian bread slices, unless you don't want the crowd to risk filling up too soon. Another fun, but old fashioned idea, is to offer a small bowl of spumoni. It's a type of ice cream that supposedly originated in Italy and was thought to whet the appetite. Sometimes it was served between courses, too, in small amounts. Though you may more often find spumoni as a dessert, it can be an interesting premeal course as well.