rustic appetizer tray

Rustic appetizer tray with an artichoke bowl, hummus, cheese, rustic baguette and berries.

How does a caterer create a beautiful rustic appetizer tray? My lifelong friend and fabulous cook, Cindy Breilh was willing to teach me her technique for putting together a stunning appetizer presentation. She starts with kale or gathered greens to nest under her elements and picks a few interesting containers to hold dips or nuts. She places taller items in the back. A glass can hold breadsticks, and grapes create movement cascading from back to front. Lay out charcuterie and cheeses. A round of brie can sit atop its packaging box. Finally, the finishing touches of berries, nuts or chocolates filling in open spaces and spilling over the cheeses.



rustic appetizer tray


  • Sturdy, leafy greens to create a bed on your platter or tray
  • Vegetables to hollow out and serve as bowls:
  • artichoke, bell pepper, eggplant
  • Crackers of different types
  • Meats and cheeses:
  • brie, goat cheese, hard cheeses,
  • sliced salami, prosciutto
  • Assorted fresh berries:
  • pomegranate seeds, blueberries, raspberries, grapes
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts,pecans, shelled pistachios
  • Chocolates, assorted
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Sliced rustic baguette
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • (about 3 tablespoons)



Assemble a 6- to 7-inch springform pan.


In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese with the milk until smooth, then stir in the minced garlic.


Finely chop the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. In a medium bowl, mix them with the capers and parsley. Spoon half the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, and gently pat it down to form an even layer.


Spoon half the cream cheese mixture into the center of the pan and spread outward to cover the olive layer. Gently spread the remaining olive mixture (going outward from the center) to cover the cream cheese.


Top with the second half of the cream cheese mixture, again working from the center to the edges to cover the olive layer. (You could invert the layers and top with a sprig of rosemary.)


Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Loosen the torte by running a knife around the edge of the pan. Remove the outer ring and gently transfer the torte onto a serving tray. (Leave it on the bottom disk to keep the torte intact.)


Surround the torte with baguette rounds. Serve with a spreading knife.

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