An Italian cured Meat and Cheese platter or Antipasto board is a quick no fuss first course or introduction to a meal, especially when you don’t have the time or energy for a heavy first course.
Colorful plates of nibbles including cured meats, cheeses, fresh or marinated vegetables, fruits and nuts make for simple party perfect entertaining.
My mother’s sister (Mummy) Rachel always made some type of savory platter when she entertained large crowds. This was usually over Easter or New Year’s Eve when she celebrated her birthday. In those days there was not a great variety of cured meats available and even the cheese was limited to a few local brands that were barely passable.
Mummy Rachel’s antipasto board always included a delicious seed loaf, French cheese like brie or camembert, preserved figs, egg mayo salad, smoked mussels and a fish smoortjie. My favorite thing on the platter was actually the spicy fish smoortjie made with caramelised onions, fresh tomato and spicy tinned fish. I seldom if ever ate the cakes and desserts on offer and always found a place near the antipasto board.
For a simple cold meat platter include your favorite cheese, sliced cold meats like spicy polony, salami, spiced beef and cooked viennas. This is great for an easy summer supper, for when friends or family drop in unexpectedly or as part of a New Year’s Eve buffet spread.
Are you wondering why anyone would need to write about how to throw together a meat and cheese board if everything was purchased ready made. In my experience, all cheeses and meats do not necessarily complement each other and the combinations here have been extensively tested. I kid you not 🙂
I made my first Italian meat and cheese platter for an article I did a few years ago for an online magazine. The brief was to do a romantic meal for two with a starter, main course and dessert inspired by one of the countries I’ve travelled to. The Italian antipasto platter was inspired by all the appetisers I saw on my vacations in Italy, but could not partake in because the meat was not halaal.
Fortunately, there are a few places in Dubai that sell pork-free halal Italian cured meats including Waitrose and Eataly. Recently, I purchased a selection from a place in Al Quoz. In Cape Town LA Farms in Wynberg sell salami and their own biltong as well as chorizo. Good Hope Meat Hyper have a wide variety of cooked cold meats suitable for a meat and cheese platter.
How to make a meat and cheese platter or antipasto board taste good
- I use a slate, marble or a hardwood board for my meat and cheese platter. Soft woods should be avoided as they tend to retain the smells of strong cheese or cured meats.
- Choose 3-4 types of cold cuts or Italian cured meats like salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, soppressata or pastrami. If I have it on hand I also add some biltong, a South African dried meat delicacy. If you are using processed cold meats then spiced beef, pastrami and cooked salami could be used too.
- Choose 3-4 types of cheeses, including hard cheeses (pecorino or parmesan), semi-soft cheese (gorgonzola or fontina) and soft cheese (burrata or mozzarella).
- Add condiments and a garnish that goes with the cured meats and cheeses like pesto, black olive or artichoke spread. If you don’t use a spicy salami or pepperoni you can substitute a harissa spread (not paste) instead of one of the others.
- Add fresh or preserved vegetables like olives, artichokes, stuffed peppers, sun dried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes. If you use olive or artichoke spread you can use one or two of the other vegetables for variety.
- Add fresh and dried fruits and nuts like grapes, figs, cherries or berries, dried figs and apricots (i prefer whatever is seasonal).
- Add fresh honey as a sweet counterpoint to piquant cheese.
- Add plain crostini, crackers and bread sticks to eat with the cheese, meats and condiments.
- Arrange all the ingredients on a large wooden board or platter.
For other appetizer ideas click on the links below:
- Caramelised onion, fig and brie tart
- Cape Malay Daltjies – Spinach and sweet corn fritters
- Sweet corn and polenta fritters
- Circassian Chicken Choux Puffs
Italian cured Meat and Cheese Platter (Antipasto board)
- 80 grams bread sticks
- 200 grams crackers
- 80 grams pepperoni
- 80 grams sopressata
- 80 grams bresaola
- 80 grams prosciutto
- 100 grams parmesan
- 100 grams gorgonzola
- 100 grams mozzarella balls
- 50 grams artichoke spread (approximately 1/4 cup)
- 60 ml black olive spread (approximately 1/4 cup)
Fruit - Seasonal fresh or preserved fruits
- 100 grams grapes (a small bunch)
- 100 grams figs, cut into quarters (approximately 3 medium sized)
- 100 grams pear, sliced (approximately 1/2 )
Vegetables - Seasonal fresh or preserved vegetables
- 100 grams cherry tomatoes
- 50 grams toasted walnuts (substitute nuts of your choice)
- Place the condiments in small bowls and arrange all the ingredients on a large wooden or slate serving board or platter.
- Serve with sparkling grape beverage.
- 100 grams crostini
- 100 grams pecorino tartufo
- 60 ml honey
- 100 grams cantaloupe or spanspek
Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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