I make these colorful and fun Antipasto Skewers all the time ~ everybody gets their own personal antipasto selection right on a stick!
I’ve made these Antipasto Skewers for a couple of different parties this year and I thought you might like to do them yourselves sometime. They were big hits, and we ended up making them at home with the leftover ingredients for many nights afterwards. They work well for gatherings because they can fill in for either the appetizers or a salad course, and they’re portable! No more messy salad bowl on the buffet table. If you do the job right the colors really pop and the flavors can be quite adventurous. I like to thread on little hot chili peppers here and there so you never know when you’re going to get a zippy bite — I’m a little mischievous when it comes to my skewers ;)
The hardest part about assembling these easy skewers is opening up all the little jars and containers! I make them an hour or two before I need to serve them, cover the tray with a damp towel and put it in the fridge to keep everything fresh. The sky is literally the limit for what you can skewer up. I like to stick with classic antipasto type stuff, like cured meats, olives, cheeses, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pickled things, and peppers. That way everything tastes good together. I added some basil leaves for a pop of fresh green. You can make all the skewers the same, but I think that’s kind of boring, so I layered mine willy nilly, and no two are alike. It’s fun to pick your skewer and see what you get!
You’ll find lots of these ingredients at the regular grocery store. Check out the olive bar if your store has one, they often have interesting bite sized antipasto type things. Specialty stores like international markets, gourmet stores, delicatessens, and wine and cheese shops, often have unusual items. Trader Joe’s is a good source, too.
Be sure to get pitted olives, of course. Choose one cheese that you can cut in chunks, and then grab some marinated mozzarella balls. Then go up and down the aisles keeping your eyes peeled for interesting stuff. Look for color and texture variation. I got a can of jumbo black olives, some marinated tomatoes, little stuffed peppers, pepperoncini, lots of fresh basil and cherry tomatoes, and an assortment of Italian meats like salami and prosciutto. I even found some little balsamic pickled onions, tiny marinated mushrooms, and a container of roasted garlic cloves. The mild sweetness of the cheeses and meats offsets the tanginess of the pickled stuff — and there’s an occasional spicy bite in there too — so the whole thing is an adventure to eat.
- fresh mozzarella balls, marinated
- cheddar or smoked Gouda cheese, cut in small cubes
- fresh basil leaves
- pitted olives
- pickled onions
- sliced dill pickles or gherkins
- cherry tomatoes
- canned or marinated artichoke hearts
- assorted Italian cured meats like salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto
- anything else you can find!
- wooden or metal skewers, I used 8 inch wooden skewers
- pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze, optional
- Open all your containers and set up a work assembly line. Have a hand towel nearby as your hands will get a little bit oily.
- Drain cans that need to be drained, and spoon out some of the ingredients so you have easy access.
- Be sure to leave enough room at the bottom of each skewer so that people can pick them up easily. I like to start with something dry like a cherry tomato for ease of handling.
- You can make all the skewers alike, or thread them randomly. Fold the basil leaves in half, and then in half again if they are large. If they are small they can go on as is.
- Fold sliced round meats like salami the same way as the basil. For prosciutto cut it and then roll or fold until it becomes a neat little package.
- If anything is too large, cut it so that it is roughly the same size as everything else. I cut artichokes in half or even in quarters. I sliced larger marinated peppers in half. Just use your judgement, and don't worry if some things hang out a little, that's part of the charm of these skewers!
- Lay the finished skewers out on a tray or a baking sheet, and cover with a damp cloth. Refrigerate.
- It's best to use within an hour or two. If possible, transfer the skewers to a clean serving tray right before serving. If you like, you can drizzle the skewers with the pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze at the last minute.
- If you’re feeding a crowd, make these up to a couple of hours ahead, but no more. You want everything to be fresh. Cover with a damp towel and put in the refrigerator. The basil will definitely wilt if you make these too far in advance, so leave it off if in doubt.
- Use thin, cocktail type skewers, mine were 8″ bamboo, like these. Grilling skewers will be too thick.
- Keep an eye toward color variation, so your skewers aren’t drab. Yellow or orange cherry tomatoes, bright red stuffed peppers, the white mozzarella, and the basil really help bring the skewers alive visually.
- These aren’t meant to be finger food, your guests will need a plate, and a fork.
This is one of those posts that is more of an inspiration than a formal recipe. Keep everything bite sized, and use what you like.
It’s making me hungry just looking at the pictures, how about you?