Whether you're looking for an easy appetizer or a full meal, an Italian antipasto platter is an ideal solution. It's simple and delicious, with minimal prep work required!
While antipasto means "before the meal," this Italian appetizer can easily take itself from being a small sampling of foods designed to whet the appetite to becoming the complete meal in itself. Traditionally an antipasto platter is made up of small bites of meats, cheeses and other tempting foods laid out on plates or trays to munch on before the main course of a meal. This method of eating is very conducive to slowing down the busy pace of life while partaking in good conversation and a relaxing atmosphere, which makes it an ideal choice for entertaining. It can be a delicious easy appetizer or a perfectly satisfying meal to enjoy with a good glass of wine and great friends. Here are creative suggestions to help you prepare your antipasto platter.
The simple appetizer plate
A smaller antipasto platter with only 4–8 ingredients is a great starting point to a full meal. It's also the perfect size for a nice relaxing lunch on the patio or to take along to your next picnic. Include some of these tasty foods:
- Meats. Mortadella, prosciutto, capicollo, Genoa salami and sopressata are all perfect choices.
- Cheeses. Always include chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano, but others to try are aged provolone, smoked Gouda, ripe brie, bocconcini, spiced havarti, marinated mozzarella, Asiago and fontina.
- Jarred or marinated veggies, such as sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and eggplant.
- Assorted olives. Kalamata, garlic-stuffed green olives or a marinated mix are all a nice addition to your plate. Consider adding capers as well.
- Fresh whole basil.
- Breads. Sliced baguettes, crusty Italian bread or rosemary crackers are favourite breads to include.
The advanced platter
A larger platter will include not only more of every ingredient, but also more ingredients altogether. Plan on at least 8–12 different foods. This will make a wonderful platter to serve at a large party or as a relaxing summer meal to enjoy on the patio.
Include a wide assortment from the simple plate section, but consider adding some of these extras to pump it up a bit:
- Grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes or spring onions.
- Seafood, including sardines, anchovies or grilled shrimp.
- Fruits, like fresh melon pieces, figs, grapes and raspberries, or dried fruits such as apricots, dates or cranberries.
Plating your platter
- Assemble your ingredients. With any antipasto platter, the quantity of each food to be added is a personal choice and is dependent on the number of people that are to be served. Use your best judgment to create a balanced and interesting platter.
- One large tray makes a nice visual impact, but one or more smaller plates will also work.
- Consider using small bowls placed on the tray for marinated condiments or vegetables.
- Roll or fold sliced meats for a nice presentation.
- Cut, shave or chunk pieces of cheese.
- Place bread away from moist veggies and pickles.
- Refrigerate your platter, but then bring it back to room temperature for serving.
- Keep sea salt and a pepper grinder handy for seasoning.
- Have extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar ready for drizzling.
- Serve with pinot grigio, Chianti and chilled San Pellegrino water.
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