Contemplating what to serve during cocktail hour as guests arrive for Christmas or New Year’s Eve? There are dips, chips, crudités, cheese plates, hot and cold hors d’oeuvre and other possibilities to consider.
But a recent email from Baldor Specialty Foods rang true: Let people pick what they want from an antipasto table. Just set it out and let your guests help themselves.
An antipasto platter both pleases foodies and can cover every diet: gluten-free, lactose-free, low calorie, vegan, etc.
OPTIONS FOR YOUR ANTIPASTO
Just because antipasto is an Italian word doesn’t mean every item has to be Italian. If you want to serve Greek feta and kalamata olives, French pâte and Gruyère de Comté: Go for it. Select what you think your guests will like, and select an assortment of colors to make the choices look lively. Here’s a list of possibilities to get you thinking:
Assorted olive mix (ideally pitted)
Cipppolini onions in agrodolce (sweet and sour marinated onions—recipe)
Marinated artichoke hearts, bell peppers, mushrooms and/or sundried tomatoes
Radishes and carrot sticks
Red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
Roasted red peppers
Cherry peppers or pickled jalapeños
Other pickled vegetables
Charcuterie (sausage, salame, pâté)
Marinated mozzarella balls (bocconcini)
Sliced ham and/or turkey
Seafood salad (recipe)
Semihard cheese (look for one with something extra: peppercorns, chiles, herbs, olives, etc.)
Smoked salmon or gravlax
Steamed mussels (recipe)
Mary’s Gone Crackers or other gluten-free option
34 Degrees or other fancy crackers
Thin-sliced white or whole-grain baguette
Breads & Crackers
Different presentations of antipasto. Top photo by Spin12. Middle photo by Yulia Davidovich. Bottom photo by Terrasprite.
HOW MANY SELECTIONS DO YOU NEED?
The number of items you serve depends on the number of guests. For a smaller group, consider four or five options. For a larger group, plan for eight or more items.
Arrange the ingredients artistically on a tray, plate or platter, balancing colors and shapes.
If you don’t have the right platter, use smaller plates and bowls.
Slice sausages and salamis; with ham, roll or fold.
You can leave cheeses whole or cut them into chunks. Semi-hard cheese are better than soft or runny ones; the latter get messier as more people slice them.
If any of your selections needs condiments—mustard or cocktail sauce, for example—set them out.
Don’t forget small plates, cocktail napkins, cocktail picks or toothpicks.
If there are any leftovers, the good news is that you’ll enjoy antipasto the next day, instead of trying to use up dip and cold pigs in blankets.