The Perfect Post-Holiday Appetizer Spread and a Marinated Mozzarella Recipe!

I'm excited to share some super simple, colorful and (mostly) healthy appetizers I served over the holidays that are perfect for any post-holiday get-together.

Since our whole family was in town visiting from Chicago over Christmas, I decided to make a few appetizers for everyone to snack on until our big evening meal was ready. I went with an Italian theme because it's well within my comfort zone and each appetizer pairs beautifully with a good glass of wine!

I decided on serving a variety of veggies with a pesto dip:
along with super simple grilled vegetables dressed with a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette: 
and a colorful antipasti tray:

An antipasti tray is the perfect starter and can be done is so many beautiful and delicious ways. There are so many fantastic cured meats out there, and nowadays you can find a variety of fresh Italian cheeses and different giardiniera selections at pretty much any grocery. The best thing about this type of appetizer is that you can make as much or as little from scratch, and you are guaranteed to please just about everyone you are entertaining! Another favorite thing of mine about an antipasti tray is that you can make the selections as light or as heavy as you want. Make it decadent for the holidays by adding prosciutto or lighten it up by adding more grilled vegetables like eggplant. Make use of summer basil during the warmer months by adding a Caprese salad. The best part is that there is something here for everyone, whether they are gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.

For this antipasti tray, I used Trader Joe's packaged cured Italian meats. I love buying these and using them for snacks or muffaletta sandwiches! This pack included salami, capicolla and prosciutto. Sometimes I go a little crazy and pick up some mortadella (Italy's answer to bologna) to add to the mix. You can find any of these meats at your local deli if you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby. I also used jarred giardiniera this time around (although homemade is super simple!), a homemade baguette and some simple grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice then sprinkled with Kosher salt and pepper.

Here's the recipe for my marinated mozzarella:

One container Ciliegine
1/2 cup extra virgin oil 
**1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano 
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
2 cloves garlic

Add the oil, oregano, red pepper flake and garlic (peel and smash with the bottom of a glass) to a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for about ten minutes until very fragrant. Allow to cool, then strain through a sieve into a container with a lid. Add the ciliegine and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours before serving. These are best served at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. This oil is also fantastic as a dip for bread or tossed with pasta and parmigiana cheese!

**A funny little side note about the oregano: I grew a lot of oregano this summer and figured it had all frozen during our recent cold temps and snowfall. Of course I forgot to buy some at the grocery and ended up throwing on my snow boots, crossing my fingers and heading out to my snow-covered herb garden only to find about 2 tsp. worth of oregano still hanging on for dear life! Perfect!

Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

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