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How to make a healthy antipasto platter

It’s a favourite way to entertain in the summer, but is just as popular in winter. Here’s how to do pre-dinner nibbles the healthy way.

Antipasto literally means ‘before the meal’, and it is the first course of an Italian meal. In Italy, this means small bites – maybe marinated vegetables, figs with parma ham, salami, artichoke hearts or olives.

To us in New Zealand, antipasto is essentially the same thing – nibbles with drinks – but it can sometimes take on meal-like proportions, and become a platter loaded with all sorts of nibbles including cheese, crackers, dips, olives, meats, bread and hummus. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to consume a whole lot more than we intended as we graze. Here are some of our favourite ways to do antipasto the healthy way.

  • Serve a whole smoked fish with grainy crackers and a little lemony mayonnaise.
  • Chargrilled veges – try a mix of courgette, capsicum and eggplant – chilled and drizzled with olive oil. Serve with spicy tomato sauce.
  • Make mini filo tarts (use muffin tins) and fill with a mix of blue cheese and cottage cheese, topped with caramelised onion and bacon.
  • Cut carrot, celery and cucumber in sticks and serve with garlicky homemade hummus.
  • Catalan tomato bread: toast thick slices of ciabatta or sourdough bread. Pile on a platter with tomatoes and garlic cloves, cut in half. To eat, rub bread with garlic, then squish tomato into the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.
  • Serve little lamb meatballs on skewers with cherry tomatoes and a yoghurt and mint dip.
  • Little cups of chilled Speedy gazpacho.
  • Slice perfectly ripe rock melon, and serve with strips of prosciutto, ham or grilled bacon.
  • Ripe figs, halved, served with ripe goats’ cheese.
  • Black olives, crispy toasted flatbread or pita bread, served with soft ricotta or feta and drizzled with lemon-flavoured avocado oil.
  • Peppadew mini peppers stuffed with feta.
  • Make guacamole with avocado, tomatoes, lime juice, reduced-fat sour cream and fresh chillies. Serve with chips made from wholemeal pita bread.

Less is more. Two top-quality ingredients in abundance on a large platter are usually better than a whole lot of little bits and pieces. Don’t be scared to keep it simple. Invest in a couple of big white platters. These make almost any food look amazing!

Hold the cheese. Use cheese as an antipasto ingredient, but save the cheese board for after dinner (instead of dessert).

Load up on the vegetables. Summer’s a time when tasty veges are abundant, so make the most of these for delicious and inexpensive nibbles.

Try our Grilled tomatoes with feta and rocket recipe.

First published: Feb 2009



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