Folks, I’m going to be brutally honest with you. Your Bad Mama Genny just hasn’t had the time or the inclination to impress anyone lately.
Firstly because I’ve been really busy, what with deadlines and watering the jungle and attending the National Homebrewer’s Conference with The Boy. But also because impressing people can be problematic. It can raise expectations. It can set the bar too high.
It can result in people expecting you to be decent.
And who wants that? Then when you decide to be indecent, people are all shocked and all offended and all put your pants back on and oh think of the children and whatnot.
See what I mean? Totally not cool.
That’s why you need a good Antipasti Platter like this one in your arsenal. Because if you’re anything like me, which for your sake I hope you’re not but let’s pretend, you’ve already been invited to at least fifty barbecues this summer and half of them fall on the same weekend.
That’s not good. That’s not good for anyone.
Least of all people of the pale persuasion, like myself. But the point is, you’re usually expected to bring something to said barbecue, and not having enough time to make something from scratch can render one sad, depressed, listless, and prone to alternating crying jags and fits of mania.
This just in: The Boy has informed me that neither fits of mania nor crying jags are verifiable symptoms of being invited to barbecues. Thanks, The Boy. I so appreciate your contribution to this blog post. I hope that knowledge gives you peace as you sleep on the couch tonight.
Anyway, Antipasti platters, in case you haven’t noticed, are gorgeous. They can also theoretically be constructed from all store-bought ingredients. Granted, I threw a loaf of from-scratch baked artisan bread in with mine, but bread-baking is like breathing to me now, and WHAT NOW YOU DON’T WANT ME TO BREATHE I DO SO MUCH FOR YOU AND SLAVE AWAY AT THIS KEYBOARD AND NOW YOU CRITICIZE MY BREAD-BAKING ADDICTION HOW ABOUT I CRITICIZE YOUR ADDICTIONS HUH HOW ABOUT I MENTION THE LITTLE DEBBIES HIDDEN IN YOUR JUNK DRAWER OH WHAT’S THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO CRITICIZE ME ANYMORE THAT’S NICE I THOUGHT SO.
What in the hell was I saying?
Oh, yeah. So you could throw in a loaf of fancy schmancy bread and some dipping oil with this here Antipasti Platter, but some nice skinny breadsticks from the grocery store would do just as well. I also included some homemade arugula pesto butter, fresh apricot preserves, and some homemade ricotta, which is always inexplicably appearing at the back of my refrigerator (I said, INEXPLICABLY, and I meant, INEXPLICABLY).
But let’s get down to business, shall we? Here are my suggestions for an appetizer that will have everyone stuffing their faces while simultaneously not raising their expectations of you. Wanna send them over the moon? Bring a nice, juicy, full-bodied red wine to serve with this.
But they might start expecting things. I’m just warning you.
Fresh Mozzarella Balls (either marinated or not, up to you)
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Marinated and quartered artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers, marinated or not
Mixed marinated olives (I like to use kalamatas and stuffed green Spanish olives, but you feel free to go nuts)
Thinly sliced salami
Other options not pictured here:
Additional hams and sausages such as serrano, chorizo, etc.
Infused olive oils
Roasted and mashed garlic cloves
Some nice pesto
Those apricot preserves I talked about
That fresh, homemade ricotta cheese I mentioned
Those delicious breadsticks, or that crusty home-baked artisan bread I noted
Some thin shavings of aged parmesan
Small cubes of a sweet melon, such as cantaloupe
Your firstborn child (Just kidding. Mostly.)
Arrange this bad boy however you like. As you can see, I used a decorative 13 x 9 dish with the ingredients arranged in rows, but a large, round serving platter with ingredients lined up in concentric circles or pie wedges would be striking as well. Butters, oils, and soft cheeses can take up residence in ramekins that you smush onto the plate. Breadsticks look striking in a tall glass, and a fresh loaf of bread would be just dandy in a kitchen towel set in a basket.