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An assortment of antipasti is a great way to start a meal and sometimes it can even be a meal in itself. Platters of sliced or cubed meats, cheeses, fresh and marinated vegetables decoratively arranged are also great for parties. For best flavor, the ingredients should be at room temperature or slightly chilled. Serve with crisp bread sticks, such as grissini, crusty Italian bread, or foccacia. Here are just a few suggestions for a classic antipasto platter.
Salumi Salumi is a generic term that covers a vast assortmentf different meats that have been cured with salt and spices then cooked or dried, For an antipasto platter, cut the meat into bite-size chunks or fold or roll slices so that they are easy to pick up. Serve 2 pieces per person of each of the following meats.
Prosciutto Italy is famous for its prosciutto, a salted and air-dried ham that requires no cooking. The most famous of these hams, prosciutto di Parma, comes from the area around Parma where Parmigiano cheese is also made. Thin slices should be supple and velvety in appearance, with a slightly chewy consistency. Have the proscuitto sliced in paper-thin, translucent slices.
Salami There are dozens of types of salami whose texture and flavor reflect the character and traditions of the different regions of Italy. Salami are usually made from pork with various spices and seasonings, such as garlic, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, crushed red peer, or wine, added.
Mortadella Mortadella is a specialty from Emilia-Romagna. It is a large, smooth-textured sausage that is studded with cubes of creamy fat and sometimes pistachios. Mortadella has a delicate pink color and mild flavor.
Cappocollo or Coppa This meat is made from the upper portion of the pig's neck and part of the shoulder. It is cured using an aromatic mixture of herbs and spices, wine, and garlic. Cappocollo has a delicate flavor and a tender, fatty texture.
Soppressata Soppressata is a large, wide salami made from coarsely ground lean pork and pork fat. It is flavored with black peppercorns or cruched red pepper, salt, and red wine. Soppressata is usually available in sweet and hot versions.
Cheese You only need to choose one type of cheese to accompany other items on an antipasto platter. Serve the cheese as a wedge that guests can cut themeselves or cut it into slices or bite-size pieces.
Provolone Provolone is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk with origins in southern Italy. You can usually purchase provolone in both mild and sharp versions. Imported provolone is sharp and slightly smoky flavored and is a nice accompaniment to the flavors of salumi.
Mozzarella Buy fresh mozzarella that is mild, soft, and creamy. Mozzarella's delicate texture contrasts well with the more chewy textures of the meats on an antipasto platter. Bocconcini or "little bites' in Italian, are small balls of mozzarella that are the perfect size for easy serving.
Vegetables Choose several varieties of fresh or marinated vegetables for an antipasto platter. Some suggestions are celery or carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes or mushrooms, olives, peperoncini, vinegar peppers, roasted red peppers, or giardiniera.