How to Build an Authentic Italian Antipasto Board

Food, travel and lifestyle journalist Michele Sponagle shares her tips on creating the perfect antipasto platter with authentic, made-in-Italy ingredients.


Since the 16th century, Italians have enjoyed antipasto at the beginning of their meal. Abundant with delicious, traditional foods such as cheese, cured meats, and Italian extra virgin olive oil, this appetizer awakens the senses, preparing them for the many courses to follow. Today, that beloved tradition is embraced by food lovers around the world who have been inspired to create their own antipasto boards, featuring authentic Italian ingredients.

Finding the perfect balance of salumi, fruits and vegetables (fresh, preserved or roasted) and formaggi for your antipasto platter is easy — especially when you start with authentic, made-in-Italy ingredients.

There are three general rules of thumb when it comes to selecting the types of ingredients for your antipasto platter. One is that opposites attract — both in taste and texture. The contrast amplifies the simple tastes of each ingredient in different ways. For example, a drizzle of honey on a slice of crostini intensifies the sweetness of the bread while a drizzle of Italian extra virgin olive oil makes the texture more complex. A well-balanced platter should include all flavour profiles — sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

Another guide is what grows together, goes together. Every region in Italy has a unique microclimate, its own kind of rich soil and its own techniques when it comes to producing food. When you buy authentic made-in-Italy ingredients, you can quite literally taste the traditions of Italian cuisine.

Variety is another key element to consider when building your antipasto board. Opt for a mix of soft cheeses (like a mildly fruity Taleggio PDO, a smooth Provolone Valpadana PDO or milky Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO) and firm ones (such as dry, sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO, salty Pecorino Romano PDO and moist Asiago PDO).

When it comes to cured meats, slightly nutty Prosciutto di Parma PDO, robust Sopressa di Calabria PDO, an aged salami from Veneto, and dry-cured Capocollo are staples of the traditional Italian antipasto course.

Antipasto boards are fantastic for feeding family and friends because these treats are meant to be shared. Arrange cheese and meat slices in a pleasing pattern across the board and accent with small, tidy piles of grapes, mushrooms, nuts, olives, pots of honey and vegetables. Add vibrant colour with tender grilled peppers (drizzled with sweet and sour Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO or Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI) and buttery, bright green Castelvetrano olives.

Have a pile of crostini on hand and Italian extra virgin olive oil for drizzling. Serve bread sticks in elegant drinking glasses. Naturally, you’ll want to accompany it all with some fine Italian wines.

One of the best things about antipasto is that it can be prepped ahead of time or quickly whipped together using Italian products stocked in your fridge and cupboard. Enjoy as a snack, before a meal, or make it a meal on its own. Because using delicious and authentic ingredients, antipasto provides a true taste of Italy that is perfect no matter how you choose to enjoy it.).


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