Antipasto and charcuterie are both platters that contain a variety of cured meats, and are very popular when it comes to hosting dinner parties and events.
However, if you’re new to the world of cured meats, you might be curious to know: What is antipasto charcuterie?
In this article, I will explore some interesting information about antipasto and charcuterie boards, including what is usually found on each of them as well as the difference between them.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
What Is Antipasto?
Antipasto is a dish that contains a variety of cold foods such as cured meats, an assortment of cheeses, olives, as well as fresh and pickled vegetables.
Antipasto is traditionally served as the first course of a formal Italian meal. The name “antipasto” is derived from the Latin root “anti” meaning “before” and “pastus,” which means “meal.” In addition to this, the dish is typically served as a family style platter.
What Foods Are Usually Included In Antipasto?
Antipasto is up to interpretation and can vary significantly depending on which region of Italy that you are in.
Generally speaking, a good antipasto plate offers a good mixture and contrasts of textures, flavors, and colors. However, when you’re making your own, you can definitely experiment with a variety of different foods to create your perfect antipasto platter
There are a variety of different foods that you’ll find on an antipasto platter. These include but are not limited to:
Cured meats – Antipasto includes cured meats such as salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto. These rich, fatty meats work beautifully on an antipasto platter.
Cheeses – In terms of fresh cheeses, fresh mozzarella balls, gorgonzola, and parmigiano reggiano are commonly found on antipasto platters.
Olives – Both green and black olives work when it comes to antipasto, and many serve stuffed olives as well as olives that have been marinated in oil and herbs.
Vegetables – It wouldn’t be antipasto with a variety of colorful vegetables! Roasted and pickled vegetables make delicious additions, including red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and marinated artichoke hearts to name a few.
Breads – There are many fresh breads that you can include on your antipasto platter, including breadsticks, baguette or ciabatta slices, crostini, or flatbread. Breads are not only great for pairing with a variety of these ingredients, but help to make the meal more substantial.
What Is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie, pronounced “shahr-kyu-tuh-ree,” originated in France, and it directly translates to “pork-butcher.” As a result, a charcuterie board is one that celebrates a variety of different cured meats.
That being said, many people today use the term charcuterie to refer to a variety of different meats that are accompanied by foods such as crackers, cheese, fruit, bread, and condiments amongst others.
As a dish, charcuterie has become open to interpretation, and is served everywhere from bars to high end restaurants.
What Foods Are Usually Included In Charcuterie?
Although the original translation of charcuterie refers to pork, the charcuterie board has evolved over the years.
Modern charcuterie does still often include pork, but the definition has widened from the French translation to reflect a dish hugely popular throughout many different cultures.
As you will be able to see, there are many crossovers of foods that you would also expect to see on an antipasto platter, as well as some foods that you wouldn’t. These foods include but are not limited to:
Cured meats – There are a variety of cured meats you can expect on a charcuterie board, including prosciutto and salami.
Cheese – A good charcuterie board contains a variety of hard and soft cheeses varying in taste, color, and texture! From soft cheeses such as brie and blue cheese, to hard cheese like cheddar, the options are truly endless to make a delicious combination of flavors.
Bread and crackers – Sliced baguette is very common on a charcuterie board, but crackers are also a great food to pair alongside the variety of different cheeses.
Fruit – Any fruit that is in season is great to add to your charcuterie board, but a few common fruits that are served often include red and green grapes, apple slices, and even figs! Fruits add a touch of freshness that cuts through the many rich foods on a charcuterie board.
Vegetables – While not traditional, many people choose to add a variety of vegetables to their charcuterie board. From chopped carrot, to chopped celery, and bell peppers, there are a wide variety of vegetables that are typically served raw.
Dips and spreads – There are many dips that are commonly included on charcuterie boards, including hummus and baba ganoush. Having a variation of spreads is great for your guests to dip your raw vegetables in.
Nuts – It’s not uncommon to find an assortment of nuts on a charcuterie board. From pistachios to walnuts, nuts add a gorgeous crunch and provide a different texture to your plate.
Condiments – The condiments on a charcuterie platter can range from anything between sweet pickles, chutneys, jams, and jellies. The great thing about adding a variety of different condiments to your charcuterie board is that they can bring an element of sweet or sourness to cut through the numerous fatty cured meats and cheeses.
Antipasto Vs. Charcuterie: The Difference Between The Two
The antipasto platter is very similar to a charcuterie platter, as both platters revolve around and celebrate a wide range of cured meats. That being said, there are some differences that you might be interested to learn more about.
A difference between antipasto and charcuterie is that antipasto is Italian, while charcuterie is French. The literal translation for charcuterie is “pork-butcher,” meaning that the addition of cheese came later on.
Bearing this in mind, aside from their cultural background, the main difference between antipasto and charcuterie is that traditionally, charcuterie didn’t contain cheese.
Another difference between the two is that antipasto platters typically use Italian ingredients, whereas charcuterie may include a variety of foods from other regions of the world.
In addition to this, the Italian antipasto also contains a variety of colorful vegetables, whereas the charcuterie board primarily consists of meat and cheese with the addition of fruit.
Charcuterie also often contains the addition of nuts, from pistachios and macadamia nuts, to walnuts and pecans. In addition to this, numerous dips and spreads are often found on a charcuterie board that are less commonly found on an antipasto platter.
That being said, as charcuterie has developed and evolved over the years to include a variety of hard and soft cheeses, as well as vegetables, fruits, and condiments, you can see why these two platters that celebrate cured meats are often used interchangeably.
While there are differences between these two dishes, the heart of these dishes is similar.
Although the charcuterie board has developed over the years to make it more similar to antipasto, the differences between these two platters are wonderful and can be adapted to meet the preferences of your guests.
Benefits Of Antipasto Platters And Charcuterie Boards
They offer a wide variety of foods – The great thing about both of these dishes is that there is usually a food that everyone likes, whilst also providing you with the chance to try foods you wouldn’t normally eat.
They’re open to interpretation – Both dishes have evolved and developed since their inception, so you can really have fun and get creative when making either of these dishes.
So, there you have antipasto and charcuterie. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of these two delicious dishes that celebrate a variety of different cured meats in the best way!
As this article has shown, both antipasto and charcuterie boards have evolved and are open to interpretation depending on your personal preference.
If you’re set on making a traditional antipasto platter or charcuterie board, I suggest you keep things simple and try not to overcomplicate or overcrowd the dish. After all, both antipasto and charcuterie celebrate simple, yet beautiful ingredients.
Have fun and enjoy experimenting with making your own charcuterie and antipasto platters!