How To: Antipasti

A guide to the perfect sharing platter from Kay Plunkett-Hogge...

“Ah, the antipasti platter – grazie mille, Italia! This is probably the perfect way to eat while you’re drinking and ideal for a party. A little bit of ham, a little bit of cheese, olives, artichoke hearts – it’s perfect, it’s simple, it’s low maintenance when it seems high maintenance. In short, it’s effortless, like classic Italian style. (Let’s face it, a perfectly sliced sliver of prosciutto di Parma is just as elegant as a perfectly cut Pucci dress…)

There aren’t any real rules to assembling a good platter of antipasti – just add lots of what you like. I suggest you hop on your Vespa (or the number 22 bus) and head to an Italian deli to pick up a few things. I like to include 4–6 of the following:

SALAMI:

There are so many types, from all across Italy.

Among my favourites are:

PROSCIUTTO CRUDO:

Dry cured ham that is made using the hind legs of heritage-breed pigs, which are salted and then hung. The most famous are prosciutto di Parma and prosciutto di San Daniele. They are both excellent, though the San Daniele has a sweeter flavour because less salt is used in the curing process.

PROSCIUTTO COTTO:

Simple boiled ham, sometimes flavoured with herbs and spices.

MORTADELLA:

Smoked sausage from Bologna – this is where the American term “baloney” comes from. It is very smoothly minced pork and beef, dotted with pieces of pork fat. To be a real mortadella, the sausage must contain 15 per cent pork fat.”

The Art of The Party by Kay Plunkett-Hogge (Mitchell Beazley, £12.99)

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