antipasto platter spread cooking with cocktail rings

Antipasto Platter

Antipasto, an Italian-style hors d'oeuvres, typically contains a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. “Antipasto” literally translates from Italian to “before the meal” in English.) When I think of Italian appetizers I always think of dishes containing a variety of peppers, olives, tomatoes in various stages (fresh, roasted or sun-dried), artichokes, or the pickled veggies they bring as an off-the-menu starter at one of my favorite restaurants, Carbone. Of course I can’t forget famed cured meats and cheeses hailing from Italy such as salami, pepperoni, pecorino cheese and mozzarella.

This antipasto spread contains a romesco, an easy dip made from roasted red pepper and almonds. Next up is a small appetizer/ salad consisting of marinated tomatoes and perline, small balls of mozzarella (named because they resemble pearls), which are tossed together and marinated in a mixture of olive oil and herbs.

In my opinion you can’t start an Italian meal without garlic bread. I make a spread for my garlic bread by mixing together room temperature butter, garlic and parsley then spreading it on Italian bread and baking until crispy. Since it is an appetizer spread, I slice the bread into thin slices to use as a vehicle for some of the vegetables or cheeses.

While this spread may seem fancy and expensive, it can be created for a reasonable price and most of the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s or local grocery stores.

When serving antipasto, I’ve found that it’s all in the art of the plating so I make sure to place the various components with care.  As a matter of practicality, I like to serve toothpicks on the side of this spread since many of the small dishes and elements included are finger foods. And don’t forget to set out a small bowl so people can discard used toothpicks and olive pits.



For the marinated tomato and mozzarella salad:

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

6 ounces perline mozzarella

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon dried oregano  

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

 Kosher salt, to taste


For the garlic bread:

1 loaf ciabatta bread, halved lengthwise

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley


For assembly:

Green olive tapenade 


1 (8-ounce) jar Pepperoncini, drained

1 (4-ounce) jar marinated oil-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

½ cup canned green olives, drained

½ cup walnuts

8 ounces pecorino cheese, cut into chunks

2½ ounces sliced Genoa salami

2½ ounces sliced pepperoni

2 ounces San Daniele prosciutto

Breadsticks, for serving

Basil leaves, for garnish



For the marinated tomato and mozzarella salad:

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the tomato, mozzarella, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper together. Season to taste with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.


For the garlic bread:

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a small bowl stir together the butter, olive oil, garlic and parsley until completely combined. Use a knife to spread the mixture over each half of the bread. Bake until the bread is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Slice into 1” slices for serving.


For assembly:

Add the romesco to a small bowl and the green olive tapenade to another. Add to a serving platter along with the marinated tomato and mozzarella salad and garlic bread.  

Arrange the Pepperoncini, artichokes, olives, walnuts, cheese, salami and pepperoni on the platter. Wrap the prosciutto slices around the breadsticks and add to the board. Garnish with basil.

Serves 6 to 8.



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