Instead of serving up one big entree and a side dish, create a snack dinner that combines lots of small bites or snacks served together to give you the ultimate fun and easy weeknight meal!
When the September 2017 issue of Cooking Light arrived in my mailbox with this beautiful salad like dish on the cover I thought I thought yes, I LOVE this!! Grabbing a bunch of snack-type items and putting them together is one of my favorite ways to make the ultimate quick and easy weeknight dinner! The sky is pretty much the limit here so you can really use your imagination. You do want to have a bit of a strategy so here is my version to get you started!
This platter is inspired by a traditional charcuterie or antipasto platter but to make it a bit healthier you'll want to load up on the veggies. Think small carrots, sliced peppers, cherry tomatoes and maybe some watermelon radishes for a pop of color and a unique taste. I personally love slices of them dipped in hummus!
You'll start by finding a large plate or small platter. If you are making your snack dinner for several people you can even use a quarter sheet pan. It doesn't have to be fancy, just big enough to hold all of the goodies you are serving.
Next, you are going to want to add at least one dip, maybe two as I always like to include hummus of some type since it goes with veggies, chips and bread. This pesto yogurt dip has become one of my go-to favorites because it's really versatile and relatively healthy as dips go. Just combine some traditional basil pesto with Greek yogurt and you are good to go!
Since I'm a cheese fanatic I typically include at least two types of cheese. Usually, a soft cheese like a goat or burrata is nice for spreading on the toasted bread and then a hard cheese. My personal favorites are white cheddar or manchego. Small balls of fresh mozzarella also work really well. You can top them with some of the leftover pesto from the yogurt dip and then drizzle with a little balsamic glaze for some extra flavor.
Then comes the meat. I typically use prosciutto or salami but you could get a little fancier and add a few grilled chicken skewers for some other cooked meat. Again, the sky is really the limit here!
Next, you can add in some toasted baguette slices or your favorite crackers. This gives you a nice base for your cheese and meat and you can even make little mini sandwiches if you are in the mood for that.
Finish with Some Tasty Extras
Last are the "extras" - maybe some roasted mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, a few sun-dried tomatoes and a few nuts. I've included the recipe for my favorite rosemary cashews which are great with the platter but also make an excellent snack on their own. Sometimes I even add in a little bit of pasta in the form of tortellini.
This is a really fun way to get creative with things you already have in your refrigerator - it's a somewhat elegant version of a dump dinner and is great for busy weeknights when you really don't feel like cooking!
THINGS YOU MAY WANT FOR THIS RECIPE
Quarter Sheet Pan – This smaller size sheet pan is perfect for creating a snack dinner tray for two. It's also a super versatile kitchen basic that's ideal for small batches of cookies, smaller sheet cakes. It's the perfect size for baking and cooking for two.
Antipasto Snack Dinner
For the cashews:
- 1 cup of roasted cashews
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
For the mushrooms:
- 6 baby Bella or crimini mushroom caps, de-stemmed and cleaned
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
For the pesto yogurt dip:
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon basil pesto
For the platter:
- several small carrots
- ¼ of a watermelon radish, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella or other soft cheese
- 2 ounces of gruyere or other hard cheese, sliced
- 2 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
- ⅓ cup hummus
- 8 baguette slices, toasted or your favorite whole grain crackers
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the butter in a small glass bowl or measuring cup. Add the brown sugar, rosemary and salt. Mix well. Put the cashews in a mixing bowl and pour the butter over them. Toss to coat. Spread the cashews out on the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then pour them into a bowl.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Re-line the baking sheet with clean parchment paper.
- Toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, thyme, garlic salt and balsamic. Place them stem side down on the baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes.
- While the mushrooms are roasting mix the yogurt and pesto in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To assemble your snack dinner put the yogurt dip, hummus and nuts in small bowls. Begin adding the veggies, cheese and meats. You can serve the toasted bread on the side or just stack on top.
Kelly Anthony says
I've never seen it done like this before! What a great tutorial. Just in time for the holidays too 😉
Veena Azmanov says
I love antipasto platters. Perfect for entertaining and simple easy to make. Love the choices you have here. Mushrooms are my favorite to make too.
Dominique | Perchance to Cook says
Um yes! This is the type of dinner that I love! It has all of my favorite things in one spot! Cheese, hummus, dip, veggies, prosciutto... it looks so incredibly good!
Kiki Johnson says
This is an amazing platter and I love that you have so many vegetarian options so that there's something for everyone! The holidays are all about those nibbles and starting a feast with a platter like this sets the right tone! I don't think people would even remember the main course after a starter like this!
I am always down for an appetizer platter and this one looks so good! I've been crushing on watermelon radishes lately, so happy to see these here!
anne lawton says
I remember that issue of Cooking Light and thinking the same thing! We love dinners like this - that pesto yogurt sounds amazing!
This is my kind of meal! Thanks for sharing your tips!
Sam | Ahead of Thyme says
Yum, I want everything on this spread! This antipesto platter is gorgeous and would be perfect for a holiday party.
Antipasto plates are one of my favorite things to make ahead if I know I'm going to have a chaotic day. Then, I can just grab it and serve and it has something that every member of my family will eat. I love the mushrooms in this! I don't know if I'll ever make an anitpasto plate without them again!
Karyl Henry says
Oooohhh pesto yogurt dip!! I'm loving the sound of that. This is such a great platter for a small group or for just munching at home while binge watching TV.
A great healthy way to enjoy snacks in the afternoon or after dinner.
Absolutely brilliant idea! I love that you put so many different foods, I could it eat this every day!