I love entertaining all year long, but during the holidays it takes on a special tone.
Because we all lead busy lives, I like to be able to feed my guests in a way that shows I care while still allowing me to focus on them, not spending time in the kitchen.
One of my favorite ways to do that is with an antipasto plate.
An antipasto plate is filled with small bites of food like cured meats, pickled vegetables, fresh cheeses, and more.
While it is typically served before the main meal (antipasto means “before the meal” in Italian), a large antipasto spread can actually stand in for the meal.
No matter how you serve it, it’s the perfect thing to help slow down the rush-rush feeling of the holidays, encourage your guests to mingle, and reduce your cooking and prep time!
Keeping it Simple
For your basic antipasto plate, choose two or three basic items and then build the plate with complementing foods.
Proscuitto di San Daniele wrapped around bites of melon and served with spiced nuts
Marinated artichoke hearts with crackers and Camembert
Grilled vegetables with marinated mozzarella balls
Bread rubbed with roasted garlic and topped with chopped fresh tomato
If your antipasto plate is the meal stand-in, you’ll want to include a wider assortment of foods to please your guests (and to keep the party going a little longer!).
Meat: Start with a selection of cured and uncured meats, such as salami, Proscuitto di San Daniele, and roasted turkey, then add mixed olives, a wheel of creamy brie, roasted vegetables and crackers.
Vegetarian: Have a selection of marinated and stuffed olives or olive tapenade, sliced semolina bread, fire-roasted peppers, vegetarian stuffed dolmas and roasted garlic hummus.
Seafood: Sardines, anchovies, smoked salmon and trout mousse are the stars of this plate. Pair with mild crackers, capers, cream cheese, and marinated, thinly sliced onions.
Cheese and More Cheese: Look for out-of-the-ordinary cheeses like Rustica cheese with red peppers or black peppercorns, rosemary coated Manchego, Caciotta cheese with green olives, Gouda with mustard seeds or cumin, drunken goat cheese made with red wine and Sotocenere cheese with truffles and a hint of cinnamon. Consider one large hunk of standout cheese for an impressive display, then combine them with a few traditional ones like provolone or marinated fresh mozzarella. Serve with slices of fresh bread.
Remember, the ingredients on an antipasto plate should complement not only the forthcoming meal, but also each other. Keep in mind strong flavors and aromas when selecting your items, and be sure to balance them with milder items.
You’ll find other good party ideas and entertaining recipes in our online Holiday Guide.
What do you serve on your antipasto plate? Share in the comments!