A traditional Italian antipasto platter contains thinly sliced cold cuts, marinated vegetables, cheeses, breads and other miscellaneous foods such as deviled eggs and melon. A traditional antipasto plate should be chilled and then brought back to room temperature a few minutes before being served.
Cold cuts, also known as charcuterie, are generally the centerpiece to an antipasto platter. Imported spicy prosciutto, mild salam,i and ham or turkey are excellent choices. The meats are accompanied by a selection of cheeses. Bocconcini, provolone and chunks of Parmesan Reggiano are all classic choices to pair with Italian meats.
Marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and pepperochinis are common choices for vegetables to be included on the platter. Grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant and peppers, are commonly included with the pickled vegetables. Bread is an important component to the platter, as it complements the other ingredients. Foccacia and ciabatta breads are common choices that remain true to the Italian tradition of antipasto.
Antipasto literally translates to "before the meal" in Italian. The platter is often accompanied by wine and enjoyed as finger foods before the main meal is served. Antipasto is intended to encourage snacking and casual conversation and should not overshadow or crowd out the main course.