I love antipasto. Honestly, I could make a meal out of it. Give me a glass of wine and I am all set. I will gladly grab a plate and make myself a wall flower for the first 30 minutes of the party. And I’m not even sorry about that. I will gladly choose to be antisocial any day if it means I am cozying up next to some Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto and a smooth, velvety glass of Chianti. Oh, you want to be antisocial with me? Ok, lets do this…keep on reading. I will show you some simple steps that you need to make the perfect antipasto platter for your next party. I will also give you different ingredient options so you can change it up to suit your tastes and deepest cured meat and cheesy desires.
An antipasto platter is a classic dish to bring to any party.
Anytime that I am asked to bring something to a party, I almost always bring an antipasto platter (but if it isn’t that, then I bring the best brownies ever). While there are some basics to an antipasto platter, you can always customize it to your liking. There are not set ingredients that you have to include. I usually opt for Italian antipasto, however, this is an easy dish that you can make your own. There are some main components to an antipasto platter; charcuterie (2-3), cheese (2-3), bread or crackers and marinated vegetables (2-3). Of course, you can’t forget a beautiful platter to put everything on. Sometimes I substitute dried fruits and nuts for the marinated vegetables. This depends on the cheeses I am using. For a more traditional Italian antipasto platter, here is what I include:
There are five main components to an antipasto platter.
In this platter I have two cheeses. First, I have a lemon basil ricotta that can be spread onto bread or crostini. I buy really good, fresh ricotta cheese from a specialty food market that makes it daily. Click the link to see the recipe. It basically combines fresh ricotta cheese with lemon zest, basil, salt and freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil. The second cheese is a nutty and salty parmigiano reggiano. Imported parmigiano reggiano is a classic pairing for charcuterie.
You are probably wondering why I have not included fresh mozzarella in this platter. And here is the reason why…in my humble opinion, fresh mozzarella is the king of all cheeses. I could eat it with every mean. Every. Single. Meal. It is that good. And for this very reason, the king deserves its very own throne. Perhaps a throne with some roasted red peppers and salty kalamata olives, topped with a basil chiffonade and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. And please, for the love of all good cheeses, buy your mozzarella from a place that makes it fresh. I promise, you will not regret it! And it must be at room temperature. I repeat, it MUST BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. Yea, I am yelling at you. I yell at you because I care. Because if you get your mozzarella that has been refrigerated, it loses its supple texture. It just is not the same. When you bring it home, leave it out on the counter until you are ready to use it.
In this platter I have spicy soppressata and imported prosciutto di parma. I cannot stress the importance of buying imported prosciutto. I swear I am not being a snob, but, in my humble opinion there is a huge difference. The domestic prosciutto has a stronger, gamier flavor. The imported prosciutto is milder, and a lot less gamey. Of course, you can choose whichever cured meats you would like. Dry sausage or bresaola would also be delicious. A hard salami that is sliced thin is also delicious, and I would pair that with a sharp cheddar…must you will see that in the variations below.
3) Marinated vegetables
I always love assorted olives. In my platter, I have green olives stuffed with garlic and sundried tomatoes, and some kalamata olives. My favorite bite is a piece of parmigiano, soppressata and a kalamata olive. Yum! I also have marinated artichoke hearts. Also delicious, and they look pretty. And finally, my favorite, roasted red peppers. I love the roasted red peppers with kalamata olives. The flavors complement each other nicely.
I always like a french baguette that is sliced in half inch slices. Then you can layer whatever you like on it. I wouldn’t slice it any thicker than that. You don’t want the bread to overpower and drown out the other ingredients. Of course, a thinly sliced ciabatta would be nice. Personally, I stay away from flavored breads, like an olive bread or a roasted garlic bread. You don’t want anything that has too strong a flavor, as it will take away from the ingredients in the platter. After all, the meat, cheese and veggies are the star. The bread is simply a canvas for them…sorry bread 🙁
So you need a platter to put everything on. It must be something pretty. I know it sounds silly, but presentation is important. You want to lay out the ingredients nicely and on a nice platter. When it comes to food, the better it looks, the more appetizing it will be to your guests. You can choose any shape you want. Sometimes a wood cutting board is nice. It can be square, circular or rectangular. This is the platter that I always use (see below for image/link). I love the polished look of it with the metallic handles on the side. It also receives a lot of compliments 😉
Wine pairing: Chianti, Sangiovese
Customize your antipasto platter to suit your tastebuds
Here are some other delicious combinations for your platter:
Option 1: Gorgonzola (or any bleu cheese), sharp aged cheddar, candied walnuts or pecans, dried apricots and cranberries, wheat crackers, hard salami and prosciutto. Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon.
Option 2: Brie cheese, gruyere, fig jam (or figs), sliced apples or pears, chorizo, serrano ham, rosemary crackers, almonds. Wine pairing: Chardonnay
Follow the five simple steps above to create the perfect antipasto platter. It is a simple dish that is very easy to assemble, IF you follow my guidelines. It is a guaranteed hit at any party (trust me). Or, if you want a fruit and cheese platter, click here to see my five simple steps to creating the perfect cheese and fruit platter.
Enjoy your antipasto platter. Send me a message with your variation.