Lately we have become enamored with the aperitivo hour, not just for the nice glass of wine to unwind with, but the little snacks they serve alongside. Called stuzzichini, meaning little teasers, they are presented when you order a drink (including non-alcoholic beverages) in the late afternoon. They are tasty little things, and serve to tide you over until the later dinner hour. We’ve been on a quest to find the best in town.
The US equivalent would be hors d’oeuvres. If you’re planning a get-together, the stuzzichini make nice nibbles.
They can be as simple as a piece of salami or prosciutto on a round of bread and a variety of cheeses, but I like the jazzed-up bites better. For instance:
*Spread pesto on a cracker or bread; top with a marinated artichoke heart or a sun-dried tomato that was packed in oil.
*Hollow out cherry tomatoes and stuff with little mozzarella balls (called cigliegine)
*Hollow the cherry tomatoes and stuff with an anchovy and a piece of asiago cheese
*Spread cooked ham with cream cheese and then pesto, roll up and cut into little rounds
*Spread olive paste (available in little jars in most grocery stores) onto baguette rounds and top with an olive half.
*Top cucumber rounds with slices of tomato, topped with pecorino or casciotta cheese – held together with toothpicks
*Wrap small pieces of thinly-sliced prosciutto around small chunks of honeydew or cantaloupe melon.