It has been years since the incident, but it’s been burned in my memory, and to be perfectly honest, it still haunts me. I invited a couple from the Midwest to dinner, and watched as they sat there at the dinner table, not quite knowing what to do with the food I had prepared. They just looked at the platter with a blank stare. I had prepared a beautiful medley of grilled veggies, charred French bread slices and a big scoop of ricotta in the center. I had drizzled a lovely balsamic reduction over the entire array of vegetables and topped it with ribbons of fresh basil. Sound familiar? Who knew this type of dish would be a huge food trend years later? When I asked the couple if they would like something else, their reply was simply, “Um, we’ve never eaten like this. We usually have meat and potatoes for a meal.” But they eventually warmed up to the idea (the wine helped) and devoured the entire platter! Today, I still make the same dish with red peppers, zucchini and vegetables in season. But now, I love making the grilled medley with homemade ricotta and homemade balsamic reduction. For the reduction, I add two tablespoons of Port. If you have it on hand, it adds a wonderful complex flavor to the balsamic vinegar. For the homemade ricotta, if you can find raw milk, you’ll get a much better yield. (Sprouts is your best bet) It’s quite a bit pricier than the whole milk but well worth the money for the amount of ricotta it makes. Make these two recipes and you’ll be upping the ante on Antipasto!