Tips for Creating the Perfect Antipasti Platter

What Tuscan meal would be complete without a platter of meats, cheeses and roasted vegetables? There was no set recipe when it came to creating a perfect antipasti platter for my Party on the Porch. It just took a little creativity, a flair for styling and a love of great flavor. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing your perfect antipasti platter. Just remember, it’s about keeping it casual and comforting.

Serving Platter: Antipasti platters are wonderfully versatile and can be morphed into any serving vessel that suits your fancy.  I have a secret obsession with white dishes and would have gravitated toward such an option. However, I opted to step out of my comfort zone and use my favorite cutting board as the base. A small bunch of lemon leaves that were purchased at my local market for only $3.00 softened the sharp lines of the board. It also added a touch of green that balanced well with the roasted red peppers.

Cheeses: I love cheese, and my antipasti platter wouldn’t have felt complete without a few chunks of cheese. Cheese can be expensive, so pick two or three varieties you like the best. For this platter, I opted for mild Gouda as the focal point with the red rind intact to help keep the slices wrangled on the board like caged animals. The second cheese was a super sharp and hard Irish cheese to add a little contrast. Rather than keeping the cheese in its standard block shape, I created interest by slicing it into triangles. If I wanted a third cheese, I would have selected a rich blue, like Gorgonzola.

Fresh mozzarella and a block of parmesan are safe options for an antipasti platter. Add interest by drizzling the mozzarella with olive oil, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs.

Sliced Meats: What my guests didn’t know was the sliced meats were nothing more than a variety pack from Costco. To add more height and drama, I simply folded the meats in half and staggered them along the cheese. There was no need to be perfect. Just reminded myself it was about being casual and rustic.

Something Grilled: What would an outdoor party be with something grilled? Large slices of Kielbasa with distinct grill marks not only added flavor but color too. I saved a few on the side for snacking in the kitchen while I assembled the rest of the menu. Shhhh, that will be our little secret.

Vegetables for Color: I found the cute baby bell peppers and I couldn’t help but including them in my platter. Lightly tossed with olive oil, and a quick roasting at about 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, further intensified the colors and flavors. I had some extra cherry tomatoes from my Panzanella Salad that made a perfect finishing touch.

Other Ideas: Other ingredients that would have added even more charm to my antipasti platter included: roasted asparagus, olives, pickled green beans, sundried tomato spread and balsamic pearl onions.

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