How To Prepare Antipasto: Traditional First Course of an Italian Meal

No, you don’t have to begin every party with mini pizzas and pigs in a blanket. There are other ways to start a meal or enjoy a gathering. 

Most American have heard of charcuterie boards and enjoy them often. However, only a few have an idea of what antipasto is or how to make it. 

Technically, antipasto is the first course of an Italian meal that features various items. Most often, you’ll get to choose from an assortment of cheeses, meats, vegetables, and olives. 

All of these will be carefully arranged, so the displayed antipasti plate pleases the eyes as much as the stomach. If this description has interested you enough to wish to learn a recipe for antipasto, you’re in the right place.

We’ll give you all the necessary information you need to prepare our favorite antipasti dishes and enjoy them with your friends. Or, to try the best Italian appetizers, visit Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar in Miami.

What Is Antipasto?

Most people had seen antipasti dishes on the table in front of them before but weren’t aware of them. Just because you can’t arrange an antipasti plate doesn’t mean you don’t know what it is.

As we mentioned, antipasto goes at the beginning of the meal. It includes a few different deli cuts, some cheeses, olives, mushrooms, vegetables, and so on. The variety is the main advantage these Italian appetizers have over the regular party dishes we’re used to. No matter which type of diet you follow, you must find something you like on a well-prepared antipasti plate.

And, since antipasti are served for the whole family, no one will stay hungry. These plates feed large groups of people with ease.

Remember that the ingredients change based on the region of Italy the creator is from, but feel free to improvise and add details that will make you happy.

How Do You Make an Antipasto Platter?

We’ve already mentioned the ingredients you can’t forget when making antipasti. And, no, just gathering them on the same plate won’t be enough.

Arrange the prepared items, so they look presentable, then add a few more items to the composition. Consider marinated beans, pickles, and other pickled vegetables as valuable additions. Also, dips, spreads, and bread are essential but often overlooked parts of antipasti dishes.

Olive and bruschetta tapenades are perfect for this type of composition. Pair them with sliced focaccia and breadsticks, and enjoy your first antipasto.

Antipasto Platter Ingredients

You already know – there are no wrong ways to do this. You’re free to add whatever you like to your antipasto dish. Still, there are certain food items we can recommend before others. Check out this list before deciding what makes the cut for your first assembly.

  • Meats

The obvious place to start. There’s no antipasti plate without meat. (There probably are, but they are no match for those containing meat.)

Salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, capicola, coppa, and sopressata are some of our favorites. You’re free to choose the ones you prefer or improvise with something different. Try rolling mozzarella cheese sticks into prosciutto or pancetta slices and make a unique creation for your friends.

  • Cheese

Fresh mozzarella balls are a favorite in most crowds, so that’s a neat place to start your cheese selection. Also consider gorgonzola, asiago, parmigiano reggiano, or fontina. 

Marinated cheese is a fun change of pace for those who don’t have it often. So consider leaving mozzarella balls in olive oil mixed with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes. It will give the cheese some extra flavor and change the dynamic of the creation.

  • Olives

Black and green olives are the least you can do. They are easily found in most grocery stores and don’t need any extra preparations. Include olives into your antipasto and have a sure hit with most guests.

  • Vegetables

You have plenty of options here. Not only can you choose between multiple vegetable options, but there are multiple ways those can be prepared.

We advise adding a mixture of fresh, pickled, and roasted veggies. Not all vegetables should be served the same way, so choose the premium version of each one. 

For example, eggplant is best when it’s grilled. We can’t get enough of roasted red bell peppers. While on the other hand, some of us like fresh carrots better than anything else.

Pepperoncini and cherry peppers should also be grilled, while artichoke hearts need to be marinated for the full experience. Mushrooms also enjoy marinade, but make sure to grill them before serving. 

To make things even more interesting, add pickled garlic cloves, roasted tomatoes, and more fresh items like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and so on.

  • Fruit

Most people forget about fruit when doing this. However, grapes are one of the most common ingredients in antipasti dishes.

Try finding grapes at the local market and enjoy having them as a part of your antipasto.

  • Bread

There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the right bread. Pretty much anything with an odd name will do the trick. So a ciabatta and a baguette are perfect for the occasion. Also, hard breadsticks and crostini go quite well.

  • Extras

Let your imagination go wild, and add more things you find appealing. Almonds, fresh berries, peanuts, and so many other food items can find their way into a recipe for antipasto. You just have to pick your favorites.

How to Make Ahead?

Planning a party is challenging enough. You don’t need another thing to do last minute. That’s why making antipasti ahead of time is the right decision.

But how to do this correctly? 

Timing is key to accomplishing this task correctly. Make sure you assemble the platter no more than eight hours before your guests arrive. Then, cover it tightly and leave it in the fridge. Keep the composition in the cold until your guests arrive, or take it out minutes before.

The only thing you should skip the night before is the bread. It will likely become stale in the refrigerator, so we don’t recommend this step. Instead, bake or buy fresh bread and serve it when the guests arrive.

Is Charcuterie the Same as Antipasto?

Well, they do look quite similar. And they both contain cured meats. So what’s the difference?

Well, charcuterie boards have no limitations to what they can include. It doesn’t matter where the ingredients come from as long as you enjoy their flavor. Antipasto, on the other hand, sticks to ingredients that come from Italy.

Also, charcuterie boards are usually a mixture of meats and cheese. And, as you’ve seen from this blog, Antipasti includes veggies, fruits, and many other tasty additions.

Visit Mi’talia

If you ever find yourself in Miami looking for Italian food, visit Mi’talia. Our restaurant serves all the unbelievable dishes from this part of the world.

So, no matter if you’re craving antipasto, pizza, or pasta, we’ve got it.