I'd like to focus on easy entertaining today since it's a holiday weekend. How about an appetizer that can be customized to meet the needs of any diet? An antipasto board can be a great party pleaser. Although it traditionally contains meat, a delicious antipasto can be vegetarian and still satisfy all of your dinner guests. Here are five ways to ensure vegetarian antipasto success:
1. Sweet - Always choose something sweet to include on your board. It will balance out the other ingredients and appeal to children and/or sweet-loving-adults at the party. I like roasted figs, dates stuffed with nuts and rolled in sugar, and fresh fruit.
2. Salty and Tart - Select a food or two from the salty and/or tart category. I usually include pickles and a few different types of olives.
3. Crunchy - Sweet and salty are all about taste, but let's not forget about the other senses. You want to hear your food too! Add some crunch appeal! Nuts, carrots, or breadsticks will make some noise.
4. Protein - Adding a protein to your antipasto board will help guests with pre-dinner hunger cravings. This will also satisfy non-vegetarians looking for meat. Cheese and vegetarian pepperoni are easy options.
5. Color - Try to pick foods that vary or contrast in color. You want your board to come alive and be visually stimulating. If you have green pickles, for example, and want to include a vegetable, choose the orange carrots instead of the green celery.
6. Texture - Bumpy pickles, soft cheese, and creamy dip are good examples of "feel" variety.
7. Aroma - Include a fragrant food item to "wake" things up. You could purchase blue cheese or even roast some garlic.
8. Spice - Spices enhance flavor. The same is true in antipasto. Choose spicy buffalo cheese or cinnamon-sugar coated nuts.
9. Uniqueness - Do you have anything unusual on your board? Pick something to impress your guests and get them talking. How about pickled watermelon or dried star fruit?