Aperitifs at home are an increasingly popular habit and a pleasant alternative to bars to meet with friends in relaxation and eat something together without any complicated preparations. An aperitif is an easy way to welcome people home without the stress of preparing an entire dinner: the right recipes, good organisation and a few cocktails as a trump card are essential. The drinks for the aperitif are in fact just as important as the appetisers to accompany them. First, it can help to choose a theme, e.g. vegetarian, exotic, summery, or perhaps inspired by something you have discovered on a trip, such as the typical recipes of a country. Then it is essential to be organised, both in terms of the items you will need, such as cutting boards, plates and tablecloths, and what you will serve at the buffet: my secret is to make a list of ingredients and drinks to buy and a detailed menu, so that you arrive ready. Include a couple of main dishes, such as a pasta or spelt salad, and then unleash your creativity, choosing recipes that are easy to prepare in a short time and also good to enjoy cold. Serving something to eat with wine or cocktails as an aperitif gives you a lot of freedom to manoeuvre. You can, of course, limit yourself to the classics that you can always find in any supermarket, without any prior preparation, such as chips, nuts, olives, but what makes an aperitif invitation so enjoyable today is the variety of truly captivating appetisers that can go for. You can for example follow themes, I always have plenty of ideas for food to serve: here are my Top 5!
5 RECIPES FOR APERITIFS AT HOME
Chopping boards: how to choose the ingredients
Beautiful to look at and delicious, you should not think about an aperitif as simply something served on chopping boards as just an assortment of cold cuts. Instead, what I am proposing are real colourful palettes, full of different varieties of sliced meats paired with all kinds of flatbreads and breads, cheeses accompanied by fruit, honey, seeds, raw vegetables, with an incredible range of truly exquisite combinations.
A few ideas for cheese board pairings:
This is a very choreographic and creative way of serving slightly more elaborate aperitifs.
You can prepare them a little in advance and use different types of jars. Glass is a good option because it allows you to see the contents with some clarity and if you arrange the food in layers, the color effect will also be really nice.
However, you can also use small ceramic, tin or bamboo boxes.
Here are some of the simple dishes for an aperitif in jars:
The skewers of fruit, meat and fish
Here is another really fun solution for serving snacks for which no cutlery is needed, which you can skewer on apples or arrange them on serving plates.
Being an aperitif, I recommend that you opt for small single-portion skewers, with only morsels, easier to eat and more elegant.
You can alternate more delicate flavors and other more decisive ones, cold skewers and other hot ones and propose both savory and sweet combinations, choosing from existing recipes or creating them yourself.
Here are the ideas that I also use:
Crostini, Patè and Other Delights
Who doesn't like croutons? Everyone, everyone!
And then I will also tell you that this is one of the simplest aperitifs to prepare, because it can be prepared in advance and you can improvise a thousand different variations of croutons.
Which bread to choose? Obviously the baguette is perfect, but also Tuscan or Apulian bread. If you feel in the mood to impress guests, also get some
topped breads like charcoal bread, turmeric bread, nut bread, cereal bread and so on.
Cut everything into slices of the ideal size to be eaten in a single bite, to be toasted in the toaster or in the oven, so that they are well browned.
I always prepare at least one pan of simple ones, with a dressing of oil, salt, oregano, pepper and a small part with the addition of chilli, for those who appreciate it.
Collect all the slices in baskets or boxes lined with bread paper or with linen napkins. If you want to serve them hot, you can store them in aluminum trays or pans that you will heat up a little at a time.
Now prepare the toppings for the croutons, I prepare at least two or three types of mousse, using a good quality ricotta cheese as a base to which I mix different ingredients in the mixer: here are my favorite recipes:
Always remember to taste, the bruschetta must have quite strong and different flavors, a good trick to reinforce some sauces are rinsed salted capers. We could go on indefinitely, in addition to the ready-made canapes you can offer stracciatella or burrata in other bowls and next to it, have excellent Cantabrian anchovies, creating a combination for connoisseurs. I also love preparing a good Hummus, which lends itself very well as an accompaniment: I put it in a low bowl, I spread it a little with a spoon and in the center I put olive oil, a little Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and spicy green chillies cut into thin slices. Finally a carnivorous variant. I often prepare Tuscan livers. They are not for everyone, but those who love them, like me, cannot go without them!
The 1000 flavors sandwiches
This is a refined and tasty aperitif variant. Maybe a little more laborious, but if you invite often, at some point you will run out of ideas and this might come in handy. You must prepare all the ingredients in advance and then assemble the sandwiches on the day of the event so that they are fresh and tasty. I recommend that you always use at least one moist and creamy ingredient so that they are not dry. Once this is done, get some sandwich bread without a crust, it is easily found in all supermarkets and gives a truly perfect result. First prepare the tuna and cooked ham creams, as I explained above in the croutons section, then you will need sliced cooked ham, grilled aubergines, sliced hard-boiled eggs, artichokes, sliced tomatoes. Spread your creams on the slices of bread, season to taste with the ingredients you love the most and arrange the slices in several layers, without cutting the triangles beforehand. This will be the last step to do before placing the sandwiches on the trays. Wrap the seasoned loaves in a tight film and let them rest in the fridge. just before the aperitif, cut into small triangles, at least into 8 pieces.
Ideas for drinks to serve as an aperitif
Perhaps more important than the foods you serve, when you organize an aperitif, are the drinks: you should never miss some very cold wine, prosecco or champagne, especially if you are in summer. The rosé goes well with all the fresh flavors, typical of the summer buffets, but if you are a lover of the genre, nothing prevents you from serving it in other seasons, especially at the beginning of the evening: it is a good alternative to a classic bubble. In winter, a good, not too heavy red wine is also very welcome.
Alcoholic cocktails for the aperitif: which ones to choose
And if you like them, why not think of some cocktails? You don't need to be a professional barman to prepare something simple and good, like Spritz or Americano, based on Aperol and Campari or Select, if you want to amaze your guests. Equally classic but a little less known are Saint Germain and Pastis, to be prepared with Ricard mixed with water and ice. I, who don't drink a lot of alcohol, also really like a simple, well-seasoned Tomato Juice, with crudité accompaniment, you probably know it best in its alcoholic version, the elegant Bloody Mary. I advise you to put all the ingredients on a buffet so that everyone can act as a barman and dose the amount of alcohol as they like, always provide a bucket with a plentiful supply of ice, because hot cocktails are decidedly sad. If, on the other hand, you are organizing an extended and slightly more formal aperitif, my advice is to invest a little budget in a professional barman. He will be able to prepare the basics or arrange two or three more unusual cocktails with you for your guests to discover. This choice always gives a touch of class to an invitation for an aperitif.
Obviously when we talk about drinks it is very important to also include non-alcoholic proposals for those who do not drink alcohol: it would be very rude in fact to offer simple water and not to propose alternatives. So think of a selection of drinks, you can choose from the most famous or play with the most unusual tastes, focusing on organic drinks, healthier and more intriguing, and rediscovering different flavors, such as with Chinotto, Spuma or Cedrata. Fruit juices can be a good idea, as long as you choose not too sweet flavors that lend themselves well to savory combinations on the buffet, such as tomato juice, grapefruit or carrot juice. If you want to go a step further and go into the world of non-alcoholic cocktails, which you may know as mocktails, you will be spoiled for choice and I'm sure you will pleasantly surprise your guests with their delicate flavors. My favorites are, in addition to Virgin Mary, Shirley Temple, for which you need grenadine, lots of ice and ginger ale, Florida, really thirst-quenching and perfect for summer evenings with its citrus explosion and Virgin Mojito, in which just replace the rum with an excellent homemade lemonade! In addition to the dishes, there is more: if you need some advice on how to organize an aperitif at home, I talked about it here, with several tips for creating the perfect meeting place with friends!