How to Assemble an Amazing Antipasto Platter

Assemble a party-perfect antipasto platter with just a few simple steps.

Antipasto literally means "before the meal." But with its colorful arrangement of marinated vegetables, olives, rich cheeses and cured meats, this traditional Italian first course has also come to be synonymous with the perfect party fare. With just a few simple steps, you can easily assemble an assortment of tasty little bites into an attractive and impressive pre-dinner or party-perfect spread.

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1 Select Meats & Cheeses

Choose a selection of cured meats (such as salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, or mortadella) and rich cheeses (fresh mozzarella, provolone, manchego, gouda, or Parmigiano-Reggiano). Small bites of seafood, like marinated shrimp, anchovies, or smoked salmon, are also fun to include.

Vary the assortment of items to match the occasion. For simple pre-dinner antipasto plates, include 3 or 4 total items so as not to overshadow the main meal. For party platters, include a much larger selection.

2 Select Olives & Vegetables

Choose a variety of vegetables such as artichokes, mushrooms, sun-dried, cherry, or grape tomatoes, roasted red bell or cherry peppers, chickpeas, or cipollini onions. Include a selection of mixed olives, varying the colors and sizes for visual interest. Don't be afraid to get creative, it you'd like! Consider including small chunks of melon, dried fruits, pistachios, or even figs.

A fabulous variety of marinated, pickled, or roasted vegetables are available at most grocery stores. Look for marinated artichokes, olives, or mushrooms, pickled vegetable salad, pickled okra, roasted red peppers and more! Taking advantage of these prepared vegetables makes assembling your antipasto platter a snap.

3 Marinate Vegetables

Create a simple marinade for olives or vegetables they’re not already pre-marinated. Marinate olives for several hours using 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil for every 2 to 2 1/2 cups of olives. For mushrooms or other vegetables, toss with about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least several hours, and up to two days.

4 Arrange the Platter

Choose a large platter, marble slab, or cake plate on which to arrange your antipasto platter. Place items in groups on the platter. For visual appeal, place a small bowl of a brightly-colored marinated vegetable or olives in the center and vary the colors of items next to each other.

Place a few sprigs of fresh basil on the platter as garnish and to add a pop of color.

5 Serve & Enjoy

Place the antipasto platter in a location easily accessible for guests. Serve with breads or crackers and small plates alongside, allowing guests to create their own assortments of items on their plates.

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About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.