Molly Moon Antipasto

In Reader’s Workshop, we teach students to make connections to text as a way to increase comprehension and build knowledge. Good readers always do this, and rarely think about the fact that it’s happening. A section or event in a book might cause the reader to make personal connections to something in their life, they might make connections to something in the world that is similar to events or ideas in the book, or they might make connections to other books. Making connections happens all the time. In fact, most of us travel through the intellectual endeavors in our lives constantly making connections to what we have experienced or already know. This is the way our knowledge and understanding grows.

Take me for example, when I sliced these lovely beets this morning, I was reminded of a book that Max and I read last year. The book is called Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng. It’s about a homely orphan girl growing up in England who happens across a book that teaches her to use hypnotism. She discovers that she is a very powerful hypnotist who is able to change the people around her and uses her new powers to have amazing adventures. She travels to New York, stars in a Broadway play, and eventually finds herself being chased by an evil villain who wants to use Molly’s power in order to rob a bank. The front cover of the book shows Molly’s dog, Petula, a bug-eyed pug with spiral hypnotized eyeballs that look just like these beets! A connection.

Molly Moon Antipasto:

  • 6 medium striped beets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 handful mint, chiffonade


Roast the beats at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until you can pierce them with a fork. Let them cool and then peel the skin off. Slice the beats into rings. Mix the marinade, pour over the beets and let them sit for 4-6 hours. To serve, place the beets on a serving platter and top with mint.

Marinated Mushroom and Grape Tomato Antipasto

I live with two people who HATE mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, so I thought I’d prepare these two items in their own dish since I like them so much, and that way the boys won’t have to pick them out. My lucky day!

Marinated Mushroom and Grape Tomato Antipasto:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil to saute
  • 1 pound fresh button or baby portobellos
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil to finish
  • 12 oz. grape tomatoes
  • salt and pepper


Heat the saute pan until it is very hot. Add the olive oil and let it heat. Drop in the mushrooms and stir around in the oil. Add a little salt and pepper and let the mushrooms cook on high heat until they are nicely browned. This will take just a couple minutes of cooking. When they have turned a nice golden brown, add the garlic and stir into the oil quickly and then pour in the vinegar. Let the vinegar boil and evaporate for a minute and turn off the heat. Add extra olive oil to finish and mix in the grape tomatoes. Toss it all together and remove from the pan to cool to room temperature.

Lemony Vegetable Antipasto

Dinner tonight with friends will be risotto, so to follow with the Italian theme, I have put together a lightweight antipasto dish to serve with freshly baked pita chips. This lemony delight is vegan, chock full of vitamins and supports the Mediterranean diet. In other words, I am trying to lower the carb load and saturated fats, because I’m takin’ in too many! This would also be a great appetizer for the Superbowl party! You can play, “Hide the Vitamin” while everyone else watches the game!

Lemony Vegetable Antipasto:

  • 1 red pepper, flame roasted
  • 1/2 roasted cauliflower
  • 1 can whole artichoke hearts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chiffonade
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: To prepare the cauliflower, steam it for a few minutes just until it begins to get tender. Then place it in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil over the top, and roast it at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It will be easy to pierce with a fork when it’s done.

While the cauliflower roasts, cut the red peppers in half. Using tongs, hold the pepper halves over the stove flame to blister. If you aren’t interested in this method, the peppers can be easily roasted with the cauliflower, but for less time. Roast them until they are just tender.

Once the veggies are tender, pulse each separately to chop. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add extra olive oil if you like, and taste for salt preference. Serve with crostini, crusty bread or pita chips.