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- Cacciucco is traditionally served over toasted bread rubbed with garlic. While you can certainly use a store-bought country bread, for a special touch make your own filone. It has an airy center that crisps beautifully and a thick crust perfect for dipping.
- If you are making the bread yourself, allow plenty of time: The dough starter (biga) requires at least eight hours to ferment (it can be started up to 24 hours in advance) and the dough itself needs at least 2 hours of rising time plus time to bake.
- The herbed olives and marinated mushrooms require only a few ingredients and come together in a snap, but it's best to make them ahead so their flavors have time to meld. You can prepare the olives up to two weeks in advance and the mushrooms up to one week. For more antipasti ideas, see The Art of Antipasti.
- Tuscany is a region famous for making frugality seem elegant. There's no better example than fagioli al fiasco, or "beans in the flask." Read about the history of this beautifully simple dish here.
- See our collections of Italian Side Dishes and Italian Desserts for many more ways to dress up the meal. Source the best ingredients you can afford with help from our gallery of must-have Italian pantry items.
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Elegant black tea and botanical flavors round out this pretty party punch.