As we settle from a weekend filled with food, fun and an abundance of festivities, some joyfully playing with their new gizmos and gadgets, others leafing through the cookbook they’ve wanted for ages, it dawns on us that another day of celebration is right around the corner! New Years Eve, often referred to as La Notte di San Silvestro in Italy calls for tumultuous celebration and spectacular fireworks displays across the regions in il bel paese.
With festivities, naturally comes more plentiful spreads of culinary delights, so we’ve collected a few delicious and easy-to-prepare suggestions fit for a small intimate gathering to an exuberant New Year’s Eve party! Buon anno!
Salumi - Italian cured meats
Prosciutto di Parma DOP
An absolute classic for your meaty selection is this prosciutto from the Parma province in Emelia-Romagna. The meat is aged for around 10-12 months encased in a layer of salt, a preservation method which has been used for this product for over 2000 years. This ham is so unique with its soft texture and rich, salty flavour that it is protected by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, the authentic products of which are recognisable by the symbol of a ducal crown.
Wonderful on its own, with a fresh slice of melon or even wrapped around a warm grissino – a recipe for which you can find here. This Parma Ham will be one of the first things to disappear from your gourmet selection!
Originally made in the alpine Valtellina valley in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, bresaola is a lean, dried cured meat made from beef. Distinctive by its deep burgundy hue and sweet, aromatic flavour bresaola is leaner than Parma Ham since the outer layer of fat is removed before the meat is rubbed with salt and spices after which it is hung to dry for several months. As another protected product, bresaola can only legally be produced by a certified Lombard master butcher.
Served in thin, delicate slices at room temperature you won’t need any accompaniment to enjoy its unique flavour. If you desire one, however, layer slices of bresaola on a large plate, spread a handful of rucola (rocket) atop, drizzle with a few drops of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and some parmesan shavings and you have yourself a delectably elevated antipasto dish.
This dry-cured choice is one of our favourites, bringing together meaty flavours from the pork in tandem with a full-bodied Italian wine (all in the same bite!) was always going to be a winning combination. Like other salami, salami infused with wine is made from fresh pork using no additives, after which the ground pork is steeped in wine (DeLallo red wine, for example) for around 4-6 hours before it is fed into its casing and dry hung for several months.
Also known as capocollo and traditionally made using pork shoulder or neck, coppa is recognisable by the beautiful thick marbling seen throughout the meat when sliced. There are two official DOP protected coppas in existence today: Coppa Piacentina and Capocollo di Calabria and both are extremely popular for an antipasti spread.
Another tasty meat to serve with bread and cheese, or else with freshly sliced pears or pickled radishes.
Beautifully balanced in taste, Burrata’s creamy centre, neatly nestled within its soft outer shell, provides a melting, satisfying bite unlike any other. A slow cut to its exterior reveals its inside, slowly seeping from the centre like heavy cream.
Pugliese artisans spin Burrata cheese every year under their summer glow, and, as tradition dictates, is always produced locally using fresh milk from grazing buffalos on the flat lying plateaus of Apulia. To enjoy its creamy interior, Burrata is best served at room temperature by removing it from refrigeration at least half an hour before plating. The delicate nature of this cheese finds delight in pairings with ripe tomatoes, homemade bread, and basil, of course, with a heavy hand of extra virgin olive oil to finish. The ultimate luxury cheese for your antipasti spread.
Traditionally made from 100% ewes milk, pecorino is a hard Italian cheese from Tuscany. As the name suggests, this cheese dates back to the Roman times and was a staple amongst the diet of soldiers who went to war. As a protected product, Pecorino can only be produced in certain areas including the islands of Sardinia, Lazio and in the Tuscan Province of Grosseto. Each location produces a unique variety of pecorino cheese, the taste of which varies dependent on the length of time the cheese is aged. The average ageing time varies from 5 to 12 months, gaining a stronger flavour the longer it’s left.
Delicious with any cured meat, Pecorino is a delightful addition to any antipasti party!
Taleggio, known by regional Lombard locals as talegg, is a delightful semi-soft cheese, offering an earthy flavour with subtle sweetness and a robust aroma. Taleggio has been certified as one of the most famous Italian cheeses in the world for its rich taste imparted from its ten-month (minimum) process of maturation.
Due to taleggio’s rich, buttery flavour it is extremely versatile and can be paired with a multitude of ingredients. For example, it’s creamy texture lends itself perfectly to being smeared on fresh bread or seeded crackers with a generous slathering of chutney or fruity conserve such as fig, morello cherry or redcurrant.
Originating in the beautiful southern city of Naples in the Campania region, bocconcini are mozzarella pearls made using a combination of buffalo and cow’s milk, though originally this cheese was made using purely buffalo milk. Translating literally as ‘small mouthfuls’ bocconcini are characterised by their small, quail egg sized shape and mouth-wateringly creamy flavour.
Serve with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto for traditional caprese salad flavours, or on their own with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For the true gourmet, we recommend a taste of Gorgonzola. A deliciously creamy yet crumbly cheese, Gorgonzola is one of the oldest and most traditional cheeses in Italy. Originating in the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, this veined blue cheese is made using unskimmed cow's milk and is aged for around 4 to 5 months with a minimum of 50 days. When young, it is soft and creamy, opening with nimble strokes of butter and slowly approaching a slightly acidic finish. Mature versions are stronger, almost spicy and deliver an enjoyable yet pungent bite to finish.
This cheese is especially tasty when eaten with fresh fruit such as pears, figs or grapes. Alternatively smear a generous slice onto some bread and top with onion chutney or marmalade!
Sott’aceto (pickled vegetables) & other vegetables
Serve your meat, cheese with a classic selection of pickled vegetables such as olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or pickled cherry peppers stuffed with ricotta. Fresh vegetables such as baby carrots, celery and fresh tomatoes are a nice fresh injection to the mix, particularly when eaten with cheese and the different cured meats. Alternatively, chargrilled vegetables made using red and yellow peppers or courgettes are another popular antipasto dish to serve.
Serving bread alongside your other components is not only a tasty addition to your antipasti spread, but also a great way of making sure that none of the delicious oils go to waste. For example, a fresh slice of ciabatta is the perfect vessel for mopping up the flavoursome juices left in an empty bowl of olives. If you’d like to get a little more creative, then focaccia would be a great way to get the compliments flowing early on. This Roman flatbread, which was traditionally baked in the hearth, can be packed with all manner of delicious herbs and will transport your guests on a sensory journey. If time is on your side, we encourage you to try your hand at making your own by following our simple recipes below!
If you'd like to find out even more about traditional antipasti; what to serve and more, check out our Guide to Italian Antipasti .
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