The classic Italian Antipasto Platter is the ideal appetizer for any holiday gathering – simple to make, easy to eat, and bursting with colors, flavors, and textures. This version is packed with cured meats, cheese, and vegetables and served with an umami-packed anchovy vinaigrette.
I literally gasped.
It’s not only gorgeous, but also super practical and FUN! And I knew in that moment that I had to make a version that celebrated my Dad’s antipasto platter recipe.
Dad’s antipasto is his signature dish. It’s presented at every single large family gathering without fail, and he’s used the exact same recipe for years.
I tweaked it a bit for this platter (sorry Dad!) but I did preserve one element that he’s a total pusher for – anchovies. In Dad’s opinion, no antipasto platter is complete without a generous helping of these tiny oily fish.
Me? I’m not a huge fan of whole anchovies. I don’t know why they make me squeamish in their intended state, but I just can’t get down with whole anchovies. But I CAN get down with them pureed into a delicious dipping sauce! Just like classic Caesar dressing, anchovies transform this vinaigrette into a rich, umami-packed experience that’s perfectly tangy and seriously addictive.
What is Antipasto?
Antipasto literally translates to “before the meal”. In Italian culture, it basically means appetizers – but small ones. Little nibbles and bites intended to stimulate the appetite and allow the family to slowly gather before the main meal. I am SO down with antipasto!
Most Americans associate an antipasto platter with a combination of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables, but in Italian culture the definition is pretty loose – a simple and light, but incredibly flavorful, bite or two per person. When I serve antipasto, it’s almost always a cold or room temperature offering, like this Marinated White Bean Bruschetta or Green Goddess Dip with vegetables.
Italian Antipasto Ingredients
Antipasto platters vary widely, but always include a selection of cheeses, cured meats, and vegetables (raw, marinated and/or pickled). And as noted above, anchovies in some form are a must!
Select your cured meats: genoa salami, peppered salami, prosciutto, soppressata, etc.
Select your cheeses: fresh mozzarella, provolone, and aged parmesan are classics.
Select your vegetables: here’s where you get to go really wild! Select a variety of vegetables that are a combination of raw, marinated, and/or pickled. Dad and I both like to include:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Raw cucumber and carrot slices
- Mixed olives
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts
- Gherkin pickles
- Marinated mushrooms
- Roasted red peppers
Choose a sauce: A dipping sauce isn’t a traditional must-have, but I believe it pulls the whole experience together, and it’s a great way to add a layer of additional flavor. I like to serve my antipasto with anchovy vinaigrette.
How to Make an Antipasto Platter
A classic Italian antipasto platter is a must-make for our holiday gatherings – the wide range of colors, textures, and flavors are a gorgeous centerpiece, and there’s always a little something for everyone in attendance to enjoy. Threading the antipasto onto skewers creates the perfect vehicle for dipping into the intensely flavored and umami-packed anchovy vinaigrette.
- Gather your ingredients (see the Ingredients section above!), a handful of 4″ skewers, and a platter.
- Prepare the ingredients by thinly slicing the meats, chopping the cheeses into cubes, and and dicing the vegetables.
- Randomly thread the ingredients onto the skewers – there’s no rhyme or reason here, just go with what feels right.
- Pile the skewers onto a platter.
- Make the anchovy vinaigrette – place a few anchovy fillets, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, and some cracked black pepper into a food processor. Process until the garlic and anchovies are pulverized and the dressing is emulsified.
- Drizzle some of the dressing over the skewers, then transfer the rest into a bowl as a dipping sauce.
BOOM! You’re done. Position this as the centerpiece of your holiday table, then pour yourself a glass of bubbly and pat yourself on the back.
More Holiday Appetizer Recipes
- 20+ Easy Cocktail Party Appetizers
- Cranberry Brie Crostini Bites
- Rosemary White Bean Bruschetta
- Gingerbread Spiced Nuts
- Winter Harvest Endive Appetizer Cups
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Italian Antipasto Platter with Anchovy VinaigrettePrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 14-oz can quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 c marinated green olives, about 6 ounces
- 1 c marinated black olives, about 6 ounces
- 8 oz bocconcini mozzarella balls
- 4 oz salami, sliced
- 4 oz prosciutto, sliced in half
- 1/2 c pepperoncini peppers, about 4 ounces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- basil leaves
- rosemary sprigs, optional
- 4" wood skewers
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 anchovy fillets, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed then minced
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- Thread all ingredients except rosemary sprigs randomly onto 4” skewers.
- Arrange the skewers onto a 12” round platter.
- Tuck the rosemary sprigs around the skewers for a festive touch (optional).
- Make the anchovy vinaigrette. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Flip the switch to continuous and blend until the anchovies and garlic are pulverized and the dressing is smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Drizzle the skewers with vinaigrette just before serving, then serve the remainder as a dipping sauce.
- Additional meat options: soppressata and bresaola
- Additional cheese options: provolone, aged parmesan, pecorino
- Additional vegetable options: gherkin pickles, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, raw cucumbers and carrots