This easy Party Antipasto Salad, loaded with a large selection of Italian meats, cheeses, olives and marinated vegetables, will seriously impress guests. Whether served at your own dinner party or taken to a potluck or backyard barbecue, this traditional Italian first course salad, with its variety of flavors, textures and colors, is always a crowd pleaser.
You will love the salad recipe as it can easily be cut in half if you are serving it to a small group of friends or doubled or even tripled if you are serving it to a large crowd at a party. If you don’t care for one of the Italian cured meats that I have suggested, substitute another cured meat, perhaps hot capicola. Want to add a pasta, by all means do so. One thing I would suggest though, save a bowl of the salad for yourself or your family for the next day, it is delicious. Served along with a loaf of crusty bread, I know that it certainly makes my husband very happy.
Party Antipasto Salad
- 2 or 3 slices, about 1/2 in. thick of mortadella, cubed
- 2 or 3 slices, about 1/2 in. thick of sopressata or other hard salami, cubed
- 2 or 3 slices, about 1/2 in. thick of picante (sharp) provolone, cubed
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 pint carton cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 14 oz. cans baby artichoke hearts, drained well and cut in half
- 1 12 oz. jar marinated mushrooms, drained
- 1 c. pitted green olives
- 1 c. pitted kalamata olives
- 1 7 oz. jar cocktail onions, drained
- 1 16 oz. jar deli sliced roasted red bell peppers
- 1 15 oz. can garbonzo beans (chick peas), drained
- juice of 1 lemon or 1/4 c. red wine vinegar, whichever you prefer, adjusting to your taste, if necessary
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Italian Vinaigrette by combining the lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, basil, salt and pepper in a jar. Top with a lid, shake and taste to adjust for seasonings, if necessary. An alternative vinaigrette that you might prefer would be my Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette which you can find here.
Put all the remaining antipasto ingredients in a large bowl, mix gently then add the vinaigrette. Mix everything well and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours then serve.
I made the antipasto salad to take to a party of 50 people. The hosts had prepared roasted pork tenderloins and eggplant parmesan. Other guests brought appetizers, salads, sides and desserts. When making a dish for a large group, please don’t feel that you need to prepare a serving for each guest. There are usually so many different dishes that everyone wants to try and each person will probably just take a small portion of each. When trying to determine how much to make for this group of 50, I felt the quantity in this recipe was appropriate…even keeping a little for my husband and I to enjoy the next day. That is what you see in the photographs. If I was serving this as a plated first course, I would say it would serve 8 to 10, perhaps with leftovers.
I must admit that this can be an expensive dish if you are preparing it for a large crowd. You can certainly cut down on the amount of meat and add pasta such as tortellini or a sturdy green such as romaine. If you add greens to the recipe, make sure that you don’t add the salad dressing or toss until right before serving.
An antipasto platter like the one above, can be found at many Italian family gatherings, they make a presence on our table often. A trip to your local deli counter plus a stop at the produce counter can provide you with a delicious first course that is not only simple to put together but your guests will enjoy as well. The next time you entertain, for either a small gathering at your home or for a large crowd, think about a traditional Italian antipasto salad or platter, you can’t go wrong with either one.