Italian food is rich, flavorful, and full of fresh ingredients. The cuisine itself is more than good food; it’s about the experience of sharing memories and stories with those you love.
If you’re planning on serving an Italian feast for a group of family or friends, you’ll have a lot of recipes to choose from. From pasta fagioli to antipasti, Italian cuisine presents a plethora of delicious recipes suitable for impressing guests. Appetizers are an integral part of Italian dining. To start your meal off right, consider some of these Italian appetizer recipes, pour some vino rosso, and let the good times roll.
Three-Cheese Risotto Fritters
Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish, often served by itself as a first course or with a protein as an entree. This recipe turns the creamy, rice favorite into a crunchy appetizer. The fried shell encompasses the smooth interior, allowing each bite to fill your mouth with the flavors of white wine, butter, and garlic. Hungry yet?
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups of your favorite risotto
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup grated Romano
- ¼ cup shredded or cubed mozzarella
- 1 ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Marinara sauce, for serving
- Prepare the risotto recipe as directed and set aside. Pour enough of the oil into a dutch oven or heavy saucepan. You’ll want about the oil to be about 4 inches high. Turn the burner to medium heat, and allow the oil to reach 350 degrees.
- In a bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, and ½ cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Roll the risotto into small, 2-inch balls and set on a cookie sheet. Add the remaining bread crumbs and dried herbs to a pie tin and quickly mix to combine. Roll each ball in the bread crumbs to coat. Work in batches and cook the rice balls until golden brown, or for 3 to 4 minutes. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to remove the balls from the saucepan, and rest them on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
- Season with salt and serve hot with marinara sauce, if desired.
Antipasto directly translates to “before the meal,” making it one of the quintessential Italian appetizer recipes. Traditionally, antipasti consist of a variety of cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, olives, and hummus, though the ingredients vary from region to region. This recipe calls for certain meats and veggies, but feel free to experiment with different flavors depending on your tastes and what’s available.
- ½ pounds of salami, thinly sliced
- ½ pounds of pepperoni, thinly sliced
- ½ pounds of prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of pepperoncini, drained
- ½ cups of assorted green olives, drained
- ½ cups of assorted black olives, drained
- 2 cups of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1 cup of roasted red peppers, drained
- 2 bunches of radishes with tops, trimmed and salted
- 12 sprigs of cooked asparagus
- 6 ounces of mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Breadsticks or crackers
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar (optional)
Arrange all of the ingredients on a large serving platter. Mix the olive oil and vinegar and serve in a small bowl with a spoon, allowing guests to dress their antipasto, if desired.
Ricotta and Roasted Red Pepper Crostini
Crostini is an essential appetizer for Italian cuisine. These little toasts can be topped with all sorts of goodies, but this combination of sweet peppers and fresh ricotta make for one of our top Italian appetizer recipes.
- 1 loaf of crusty Italian bread
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
- 1 ½ cups of ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup of roasted red peppers
- 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
- Olive oil
- Kosher sea salt
- Slice the roasted peppers into thin, 2-inch slices. Set aside.
- Slice the bread into ½ slices and drizzle with olive oil. Broil the bread slices until the both sides are toasted and slightly charred.
- Remove the bread slices and rub the tops with the halved garlic clove. Spoon a dollop of ricotta onto each slice and top with two or three red peppers strips. Garnish each toast with olive oil, sea salt, and a sprinkling of the fresh thyme.
All of these recipes are best enjoyed with good friends and your favorite wine. Buon appetito!