This should come as a surprise to no one, but I love food. Love. The experience of eating good food is one of the things that I live for. It also brings me a huge amount of joy to cook for my friends and share a meal together – dinner parties are literally my favourite social activity.
A formal dinner party is a lot of work, and, more often than not, quite expensive. One of the tricks I have mastered is to pick a menu that can be 90% completed before the guests arrive, both to cut down on stress and, let’s face it, so that there’s time to clean up the huge mess you’ve made of the kitchen, thereby keeping up that Martha Stewart/Nigella Lawson/Domestic Goddess facade you’ve got going on.
This, my friends, is where antipasto comes in. It is both one of my favourite things to eat, and one of my favourite things to serve as an entrée at dinner. Antipasto is easy to prepare, delicious and great for sharing.
Antipasto is an Italian concept, literally meaning ‘before the meal’. What you serve as your antipasto is really up to you – there is a huge amount of regional variation, and no set rules. Things you can serve include seafood (prawns, fish, scampi, scallops), cured meats (proscuitto, salami, pancetta or ham), cheeses (mozzarella, camembert, brie, havarti, cheddar, and so on), vegetables (artichokes, carrot, roasted peppers) and fruits (cantaloup or other melon, grapes) as well as breads, crackers, dips and olives. It’s usually a good idea to pick around four different flavours for your antipasto plate.
The plate in the photos is one of my favourite combinations. It includes a combination of hot and cold antipasti – the prawns and grilled halloumi are served hot, while the melon and olives are served chilled. Both the prawns and the cheese take only about 2 minutes to cook (seriously), meaning that you can put them on as soon as guests walk through the door, and have some hot food to serve in no time. Best yet, then you get to eat it!
Antipasto Plate with Chilli Lime Prawns, Grilled Halloumi, Fresh Melon and Olives
- 8 large prawns
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
- Chilli flakes
- Half a melon (rockmelon, cantaloup or honey dew). Look for a melon that is slightly soft to the touch and fragrant
- Marinated olives
- 250g halloumi cheese (feta also works)
- A dash of olive oil
- 1 lemon
- Devein and peel the prawns.
- Combine the vegetable oil, lime juice, garlic and chilli flakes in a bowl. Add the prawns, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Just before guests arrive, slice the melon into thin slices and arrange on the plate. Set out the olives.
- Slice the halloumi into thin slices.
- Using a thick frying pan, heat olive oil until bubbling, then add halloumi in one layer. Cook for 1 minute on each side, or until well browned.
- Using the same frying pan, cook prawns for 1 minute on each side.
- Serve halloumi and prawns with fresh lemon juice.
Now that my mouth is watering and I feel like there’s a gaping hole where my belly used to me, I would love to hear about some of your favourite foods to include on an antipasto plate – please feel free to leave a comment below! x