Family Italian, a new cookbook release from famed Italian chef (and Jamie Oliver mentor) Gennaro Contaldo, is packed with the recipes we want to cook. From haute cuisine to rustic peasant food — we love the whole spectrum — Family Italian is one of those books that puts you in the mood for a big, hearty dinner. Preferably one that starts with the classic meat, cheese and "extras" platter known as antipasto.

This classic Italian starter is traditionally served on special occasions such as Christmas. In rural Italy years ago every family had a pig, which was killed each year so that different cuts of cured meat would be available in the larder (pantry). The family also made numerous jars of preserved vegetables and their own cheese. All this produce would be carefully assembled to be enjoyed as an antipasto or starter. Nowadays, all you need is a trip to the supermarket or Italian deli to find these delicacies. Arrange them on big platters in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. Make sure you have plenty of good bread and grissini. You can also enhance this course by making some bruschetta.

Reprinted with permission from Family Italian