Everything’s Tastier on a Stick: Kid-tastic Antipasti Kabobs
Make your summer dinner prep a breeze with hearty antipasti kabobs! Packed with produce, protein, bites of bread, and nibbles of noodles (full recipe below), they’re essentially a complete meal on a stick—if you eat a few, that is. Load them up with kid-friendly ingredients and have a picnic in the backyard or on the floor in your nice (and cool!) basement. Meals on sticks minimize the mess, but maximize the fun.
The key to making hearty kabobs into a whole meal is using a variety of tasty ingredients that include protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and veggies and/or fruit.
Produce: We’re especially keen on summer’s scrumptious tomatoes, melon, and fresh herbs, but we also love whole strawberries, halved fresh figs, chunks of peaches, cucumber rounds, pieces of roasted veggies, mini pickles, etc. Fun fact: Despite their savory flavor, both tomatoes and olives are actually fruit, and there’s hot debate about whether artichokes (which are technically unopened flower buds) are fruit as well!
Cheese: Bocconcini gives the kabobs a caprese flavor, but you could certainly use cubes of cheddar, Havarti, Parmesan, feta, provolone, Manchego, or Swiss instead.
Meats: Salami is an antipasti classic, but other tasty options include smoked turkey breast, prosciutto, pepperoni, shrimp, sausage, sardines (!), and vegetarian substitutes like grilled tofu.
Starches: We like the meal-like feel of focaccia and tortellini, but you can also use lightly toasted French bread, whole-grain breads, pita wedges, mini ravioli, etc.
When you’re ready for kabob assembly, arrange all your ingredients so that you can easily pull from each type. Follow any order you like, taking into account flavors that pair well or colors and shapes that look nice together. Consider inviting your kiddo to help—it will help him practice his fine-motor skills and build confidence!
In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods—perhaps the Kalamata olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, cantaloupe, or fresh basil!
Place a platter of these kabobs on the table and invite the whole family to have at ’em. If you’re feeling fancy (and you think your kiddos will be willing to try them), have a few dipping sauces on the side, like a balsamic glaze, pesto, hummus, or a favorite salad dressing. Sure, there will likely be some spills when children captain their own dippin’, but also lots of smiles.
Total time: 30 minutes
- 15–20 bamboo skewers
- 1 package cheese tortellini
- 20 cherry or grape tomatoes
- 20 whole leaves fresh basil
- 20 bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese)
- 20 olives (black, green, Kalamata—whatever you love)
- 20 chunks jarred or canned artichoke hearts—you may end up quartering 5 large ones to get 20 pieces
- 20 slices salami, thinly sliced
- 20 (1-inch) cubes fresh cantaloupe
- 20 (1-inch) cubes focaccia bread
- Optional: Olive oil, salt, and fresh black pepper to taste
- Cook the tortellini according to container directions. When al dente, drain and place with the other ingredients.
- Pierce your first ingredient with a skewer and slide it down toward the bottom of the skewer. Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients, either following the order listed above or creating your own. Pro tip: It’s best to fold the basil leaves in half and the salami slices in quarters before skewering.
- If your skewers are long, double the ingredients on each skewer so that you have 10 big ones instead of 20 smaller ones—or you can make more than 20 skewers with less ingredients on each.
- Stack the skewers onto a platter and, if desired, drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and fresh black pepper. Enjoy!