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3 appetizing aperitivo combinations to serve at your dinner party

3 appetizing aperitivo combinations to serve at your dinner party

Have you ever had the pleasure of visiting Italy in the summertime? When the wine is flowing, the band is playing, and the winding cobblestone streets deliver you to the door of an authentic trattoria, you’re in for an evening of culinary delight. One thing’s for sure: Italy sets the bar for good hospitality.

So, if you’re putting on an Italian dinner party, you’re best to take a leaf out of their book — and your first step is to present a fabulous aperitivo. But what exactly does that mean?

Allow the culinary experts from Pasta Evangelists to light the way. They explain: “In Italy, it’s traditional that before a hearty meal, an aperitivo is served. Typically made up of a drink and a few salty snacks (known as stuzzichini), the aperitivo is designed to stimulate a diner’s appetite.”

To do the iconic Italian ritual right, you’ll need the perfect combination of food and drink. Here are three of our top recommendations.

  1. Negroni and small bites of pizza

It’s only right that we kick off our list with an Italian cuisine staple. Yes, we’re talking about pizza — but paired with one of our favorite cocktails, the Negroni. Composed of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, and served with a bite of succulent orange, a Negroni is the quintessential palate cleanser to set the tone for a night of revelry. For the best pairing, we recommend the thin-crust, salty pizzas hailing from Amalfi, the pastel-toned seaside stretch on the southern coast of Italy.

A true Amalfi-style pizza is a simple order — you’ll need to wood-fire a thin-crust pizza topped with a tomato base, shreds of mozzarella cheese, and prosciutto or another salt-cured meat. These bold, resort-ready flavours perfectly complement the bitter, complex notes of a Negroni.

Be sure to cut the pizza into small, thin strips or bite-sized portions, as you won’t want your guests to fill up too much before the main event!

2. Aperol spritz and arancini

You might notice a trend among Italian apéritif options — they often take on the jewel-red hue of a citrus orchard at sundown. Nowadays, these fruity concoctions are commonplace, revered for their refreshing tastes that can whet the appetite for any meal. The Aperol spritz, however, was the first to enter our culinary consciousness. Found In Italy explains that the fusion of Aperol, prosecco and soda “was invented as a means to combat the heat and humidity of Italy’s summer months. It became popular among people who wanted something light to sip on before dinner”.

If you’re serving up this alternative take on bitters, we recommend pairing your tipple with freshly made arancini. Arancini are balls of rice said to have come to Italy back in the tenth century. Great British Chefs tells us that “at this time they were simply known as rice balls; the name arancini was coined due to the resemblance of the balls to the Sicilian orange of the same name”.

While arancini are orange in name, their flavour is deliciously savoury, often stuffed with cheese, ham, mushrooms and herbs. What better pairing for your spritz?

3. Vermouth and burrata salad

Moving away from the classic orange beverages of il bel paese, we come to vermouth. As TASTE Cocktails explains, “Vermouth is actually a type of fortified wine flavoured with various botanicals”, delivering the same palate-cleaning properties to your aperitivo with the addition of sophisticated aromatics. While vermouth can provide the fragrant foundation for a number of universally beloved cocktails, like the Manhattan or Martini, it’s “often drunk on its own as an apéritif”.

So, what snacks should you prepare to accompany a frosty glass of vermouth? Our recommendation is burrata. This cheese originates in Murgia, southern Italy, and is positively bursting with richness. Add the soft, buttery cheese to any salad you’re serving, along with a splash of olive oil and some sea salt and black pepper. Burrata’s mild and mellow flavour beautifully offsets the dry edge of vermouth — and even better if you throw in some juicy peach slices, too.

Before you know it, these aperitivo combinations will have drinks flowing and your guests stuck in for a night to remember. Now, what’s for mains?

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