The ease of preparing pinwheel sandwiches is only eclipsed by their deliciousness. Italian Antipasto Pinwheels are filled with cheese and thinly sliced prosciutto, coppa di parma, and salami. With an easy homemade sauce, these are my new favourite appetizer!
ITALIAN ANTIPASTO PINWHEELS
A few weeks ago, I was working on developing a few sandwich type recipes for an afternoon tea party post. After all was said and done, I had too many tea sandwiches for one post, so I separated out a couple of them. They, like these Italian Antipasto Pinwheels, will be featured in a post all on their own.
These pinwheels remind me of two of my favourite Italians – Nadia and Emidio. I’m sure they would love these appetizers. But, in true Italian fashion, Emidio would ask for more classic antipasto foods to be served with the pinwheels. The first time I was introduced to an antipasto platter, he was there. He was so proud of it and explained what everything on the plate was and how to properly piece it together to make the perfect bite.
And, Nadia would call my attention to that fact that I didn’t put out enough platters of food to fill an entire buffet table! I went to her home for brunch and there were eight people present, but there was enough food for twenty or thirty. She always jokes that when I invite someone for coffee, I only serve coffee! Ha!
WHAT IS ANTIPASTO ANYWAY?
One of the most common and recognizable dishes in Italian cuisine is the appetizer dish known as antipasto. Most often served at the beginning of a meal, it can consist of different foods, depending on the region of Italy.
It is primarily made up of small bites and small portions and served family style. The various parts of the dish are served on a large platter or charcuterie board. You can find it in the center of the table, or one on each end. Everyone serves themselves, which falls in line with it being family style. The parts of an antipasto platter packs a lot of intense flavour. It has contrasting and complementary colours as well as flavours and textures.
Typical foods on an antipasto platter will include olives, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, thinly sliced deli meats, and cheeses too. Grilled, pickled, or roasted veggies, such as artichokes are often found. My favourites are the Italian deli meats, of course the fresh mozzarella, and the breadsticks. And, those are what inspired these Italian Antipasto Pinwheels.
PROSCIUTTO, COPPA DI PARMA, AND GENOA SALAMI
For my version of these pinwheels, I used prosciutto, coppa di parma, and salami. I was so tempted to use mortadella, but I steered clear of it, because I could hear both Emidio and Nadia mocking my meat choices. Ha! I remember bringing a mortadella sandwich to work once and they both commented that mortadella is the bologna of Italy. I still love it, but thought it best to use “classier” deli meats.
Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. It is a fatty cut of meat, and when sliced very thinly, it has a slightly sweet and smoky flavour, with just the right amount of saltiness. If you’ve never experienced the sensation of meat melting in your mouth, you have to try prosciutto! It can be a little costly – certainly more costly than Italian bologna! But, you only need 10 slices to get 20 pinwheels.
Coppa di parma is delicate slices of tender ham from the region of Emilia Romagna. It’s is made from pork which has been seasoned with black pepper and cloves. It is slowly cured until almost sweet in flavour. Just like prosciutto, it is best served at room temperature. Often given other names such as Capocollo, Lonza or Lonzino. Many historical sources indicate that Coppa di Parma has been in production since the late 1600s.
Lastly, comes the genoa salami. It is a cured sausage, originating in the Genoa region of Italy. It is most often made with pork, but may also be a mix of pork and beef. The salami is typically seasoned with garlic, salt, sometimes whole peppercorns, and red wine. It is then dry cured or smoke cured. I love it, because it has a mild spicy flavour.
ITALIAN DELI MEAT OPTIONS
Well, you can use mortadella. It might be just plain bologna to the Italians, but I think it’s delicious. In fact, I think it’s everything North American bologna wishes it could be! Mortadella can be found almost anywhere! Try the hot version; it’s not hot at all, but certainly more flavourful, in my opinion.
Pancetta is another great option. Contrary to popular belief, it does not need to be cooked. Ask your deli manager to slice it paper thin. It is Italy’s bacon, but unlike Canadian bacon, it isn’t smoked. Another great option would be bresaola. It is one of the few Italian deli meats that is made with beef instead of pork.
Almost any deli meat will do! Does it have to be Italian? No. You can make your version of these pinwheels any way you like. But, if you want a taste that is inspired by the popular Italian antipasto, you will have to use good Italian deli meats.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST DELICOUS PINWHEEL SPREAD
I believe that a sandwich, or in this case, a pinwheel, is only as good as the spread that you put on it. In our home, our go-to sandwich spread is Hellmann’s mayonnaise, but these pinwheels needed more zing. I toyed with the sauce idea over and over until I came to the conclusion that I could keep the mayonnaise present, but it needed to be jazzed up a bit.
Because the three deli meats I used have very strong flavours, I knew they could stand up to something stronger than just regular mayonnaise. That is why I combined mayonnaise with a little bit of grainy mustard and some sweet pickle relish. We all know that mustard and deli meats are the perfect match already, so why the sweet pickle relish?
It’s simple! The deli meats, along with the mayonnaise is salty. The sweet relish thins out the mayonnaise and adds the slightest bit of sweetness. And the little green flecks throughout the pinwheels are quite lovely. I was very pleased with the results, and I’m sure you will be too!
Italian Antipasto Pinwheels
- 5 large tortillas
- 10 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 10 slices coppa di parma, thinly sliced
- 15 slices genoa salami
- 10 slices mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- Begin by whisking together the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and grainy mustard. Set aside.
- On a cutting board, lay flat one tortilla. Use an off-set spatula to smear the mayonnaise mixture over the entire surface of the tortilla. (Keep in mind that the amount of mayonnaise mixture is for a total of five tortillas.)
- Lay two slices of prosciutto, two slices of coppa di parma, and three slices of genoa salami onto the tortilla. The meat should be laid directly across the middle of the tortilla.
- Top the meat with two slices of mozzarella cheese.
- Working from one end, roll the tortilla gently, but firmly. The roll should be tight, but not so tight as to squeeze the mayonnaise mixture out the end.
- Slice the roll into one inch slices. You should be 4 nice slices out of each roll. The end pieces don't look as pretty, so those you can hold back for yourself!
- Repeat until all five of the tortillas have been stuffed, rolled, and sliced.
- Place the pinwheels onto a platter. Garnish with parsley and tomberry tomatoes, if desired. You can use any small tomato if you cannot source tomberry tomatoes.