Tired of the same old antipasto platter you see at every party? Today’s focus is on Building a Better Antipasto Platter so that your party snacks stand out from the rest this season!
It happens every year.
You’re invited to a holiday gathering where everyone is asked to bring some sort of snack. After a long tiring day at work you run buy the store to grab a few items for a quick cheese board, before heading off to the event.
The only problem is… everyone else at the party had the exact same idea. Therefore the table is covered in mundane platters of cheap cuts of meat and pre-sliced cheese.
This year could be different.
You may still have a crazy day prior to attending an event.
You may still opt to fall-back on the beloved antipasto platter concept.
Yet with just a few tips on ingredient selection, your cheese board could be so much more than a boring cheese and cracker plate.
There’s no shame in throwing together easy flavorful snacks to feed the masses. In fact, even when I have days to plan for a party, I still have some sort of cheese board on the menu. People love cheese, meat, and salty finger foods.
Antipasto is the most common name for an all-encompassing platter of pre-made snacks like this. However, that doesn’t mean every item on your platter needs to be Italian. Mixing various cheeses, and ethnic ingredients is a great way to spice up a cheese board.
Lt. Dan has been calling our weekly whatever-we-have-on-hand antipasto platter a “snack tray” for years.
As in… “Hey Babe, let’s just open a bottle of wine and have a snack tray for dinner.” Sold.
Building a Better Antipasto Platter
The general components of a good antipasto platter (or cheese board, or snack tray) include:
- Something Rich – usually various cheeses
- Something Salty – like cured meats, nuts, or olives
- Something Tangy – like peppers or pickles vegetables
- Somethings Sweet – like fruit or chutney
- Something Spicy – this is usually picked up in one of the other categories. Meats, hot peppers, etc.
You do not have to go overboard on any of these categories, and some will overlap. Simply select one item from each (or 2-3 for large gatherings) to create a well-balanced snack tray.
If your snack tray is going to be cheese heavy, I suggest selecting at least 3 cheeses.
- Soft and fresh – like Chevre, Ricotta, or Buratta
- Hard and nutty – like Piave, Asiago, Manchego, or Pecorino
- Ripe and pungent – like blue cheese, brie, or a ripened goat cheese
Try selecting cheeses that are slightly off the beaten path, so to speak. Some of the most interesting cheeses are not necessarily the most popular. Above I have fresh Buratta balls, Piave (a Northern Italian hard cheese), a dense aged farmers cheese, and Humboldt Fog (a creamy pungent goat cheese).
Why can I not type “cut the cheese” without snickering?
The general rule for cutting the cheese is that if your cheese is soft you can set it out whole with a small cheese knife. However, if you are serving hard cheeses, go ahead and cut it for your guests, especially at a large party. You don’t want people standing over the table struggling to cut the cheese.
Offering some sort of cured or smoked meat on your antipasto platter is always a good idea. Instead of going with the classic rolls of salami and prosciutto, why not try something different like hard spanish chorizo?
Here I used Imperial’s amazing classic chorizo, spicy chorizo, and white chorizo.
Other Unique Protein Options:
- Smoked trout or salmon
- Halved hard boiled eggs
- Chopped roasted chicken
Instead of setting out the classic can of mixed nuts this season, why not add a bit of salty intrigue to your antipasto platter?
Fun Alternatives to Cocktail Peanuts:
- Marcona Almonds – buttery and luxurious
- Corn Nuts – crunchy and addictive
- Lupini Beans – although they aren’t nuts, they offer a salty bite and unique texture
- Pepitas – Pumpkin seeds (not officially nuts either) provide great color to any snack tray
Skip the dried fruit and add something fresh to your cheese board. Berries are the perfect finger food. Sweet, colorful, and tangy!
Also add seasonal winter fruits like kumquats, starfruit, figs, persimmons, and pomegranates.
Pass on the jarred chutneys this season. Instead, set out spicy whole grain mustard, wildflower honey, and/or fresh fruit salsa.
Nix the butter crackers this year and go with toasted bread for dipping and stacking. Cheese crisps and potato chips are fun additions to an antipasto platter, and are great gluten-free options!
(Read the labels to make sure the brands you buy are gluten-free if that is your goal.)
Olives are great. I love olives. But if you want your snack tray to stand out, try adding various pickles and peppers instead!
So when you rush into the grocery store this season to franticly purchase your party supplies, try to remember two things:
1) The 5 Components of a Good Snack Tray are: Rich, Salty, Tangy, Sweet and Spicy.
2) Think Outside the Box.
I’ve got a fun Antipasto Platter inspired giveaway for you today!
One lucky reader will receive:
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