Ah, summer! That glorious season of endless sunscreen applications, pool dips and al fresco dining. When it’s time to concoct a meal that will take you seamlessly from the pool to the patio, no other compares to an Italian antipasto. Sometimes confused with a meal on and of itself, antipasti (plural) is actually the starter course of formal Italian meal – an appetizer, of sorts. Here in America we tend to think of it more like a cheese or charcuterie (specialty and cured meats) board, which can serve as an appetizer, but is also perfect by itself to pair with wine or cocktails for a light, informal meal.
Antipasto – just a delicious assortment of ingredients and prepared foods – actually lends itself perfectly for informality: grazing (in a very sophisticated way), while conversing and sipping on a delicious cocktail. You can eat antipasto any time of year, but it really shines, we believe, during the warm-weather months. What better way to greet the dusk while the sun sets, than a heaving plate heaping with salami, prosciutto, olives and cheeses?
What goes into an antipasto platter varies by region, which means there’s great latitude in assembling one. There are no strict rules, and you can bend to your own tastes (or that of your guests), and whatever you happen to have at hand. With that in mind, we picked out our ten favorite antipasto-friendly options that to put together the best antipasto of the summer.
The star of the antipasto platter, sweet and salty Prosciutto is both buttery and elastic, a winning combination, especially when partnered with cheeses and plump olives.
A great, unique addition to the antipasto platter, this Bresaola is made in Uruguay using the same techniques used in Italy, where this famed Lombardian specialty is made with salted and air-dried beef tenderloin, sliced paper thin.
This incredible salami is made in America with premium Berkshire pork, breed prized for its succulent fine webbing of fat. The spicy salami is the perfect match to milder choices.
We absolutely adore fresh mozzarella with our antipasto, and especially when it has a unique shape and look like our Fresh Mozzarella Nodini. This delicacy is made to order by Mamma’s Cheese in Florida, the elastic cheese hand-knotted into its unique shape.
Cheese are essential for a great antipasto platter, and Pecorino is one of our favorite additions. This hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk comes from Rome, and has actually been produced since Roman times. Crumble or dice onto the board, or in small plates drizzle with olive oil.
You could grill and season artichokes to perfection…or you could open a jar for the same result! Tender artichokes are a staple in the antipasto board but getting artichokes while in season is tricky business. These succulent artichoke hearts and stems are grilled, then preserved in vinegar and fine olive oil.
Ok, so while these sweet peppers are really a Spanish delicacy, they are the ideal addition to the antipasto board, matching perfectly to the other savorier options on the platter.
A fresh loaf of bread like focaccia is a must for an authentic antipasto, however a few crackers like these made with olive oil and sun-friend tomatoes are a great option as well – especially if you can’t run out to the bakery.
If you want to serve classic bruschetta, our pre-blended blend of Italian spices is just the thing to keep around in the pantry. The perfect mix of garlic, black pepper and sea salt, you just need to mix with olive oil and spread on crusty bread. Or, use it to marinate olives (see below).
A little bowl of olive floating in fine extra virgin olive oil with a blend of spices is another classic of the antipasto plate. These plump Kalamatas come from Greece, Italy’s neighbor across the Ionian Sea. To “Italianize-them”, serve them with olive oil, fresh thyme, rosemary and oregano, and a dash of hot pepper flakes. Bravo!