One of the easiest things you can do when entertaining guests is serve foods that don’t require must cooking. I’ve found that creating an antipasto spread is the best way to do that. All it requires is a trip to the grocery store and maybe, just maybe, throwing a few ingredients together and heating them through in the oven.
Now, for the longest time, I didn’t really know what antipasto meant. I assumed it meant “anything but pasta” since whenever someone served it, there wasn’t any lasagna or spaghetti to be found (those come later). Eventually I learned (ahem, Googled it) that antipasto means “before the meal” and traditionally consists of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables in olive oil. It’s the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
I like to serve my antipasto on a wooden serving tray (or a cutting board makes a great platter). Since I never know what people are going to gravitate to, I try to include a couple different cheeses, fruit, sliced meats, and dress things up with some fresh herbs. And because I believe that everyone should love bread (no paleo lifestyle here), I normally make my 3 cheese bread and serve it with a very rich and flavorful marinara sauce. This time I chose Bertolli’s Riserva Parmagano Reggiano.
While I’m not into formal settings, I am into entertaining and love themes. The next time I have friends over, we’re going all out Italian. Antipasto, pasta dishes with rich tomato sauces, and of course, an Italian wine or two. Right now on the Bertolli website there are 150 tips on ways you can bring Tuscany to your table. I especially like tip #74, talking like an Italian!