Antipasto de los Muertos

By 01/27/2021July 31st, 20234 Comments

I had so much fun making this yesterday. Sometimes an idea comes to me and I have to drop everything and run with it…so I’m taking a little detour away from all things vampire to share my Antipasto de los Muertos salad. It has all the trappings of antipasto with salami, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, onions, olives, and cheese, for a fun Halloween twist. Not only is the mozzarella cut into festive skull shapes it’s marinated overnight in a super charged Italian dressing which gives it amazing flavor, as if cheese needs any help tasting good, but marinating it makes it extra sinfully good. Lay these cheese skulls to rest on a bed of red butter lettuce and surround them with a garden of salami roses, artichoke buds, onion vines, tomato flowers, and even a few garden helpers for a festive Halloween salad. Enjoy!

Antipasto de los Muertos

Lay these cheese skulls to rest on a bed of red butter lettuce and surround them with a garden of salami roses, artichoke buds, onion vines and tomato flowers for a festive Halloween salad.
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Course: Salad
Keyword: Halloween, Halloween Food
Servings: 6


  • 1 ball mozzarella
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2-3 packages various salami and/or pepperoni rolled into roses
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes cross cut into flowers
  • 2-3 heads red leaf or red butter lettuce wash and spin
  • 1 jar marinated artichokes
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 1/2 cup black olives


  • 1 cup bottled Italian dressing
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano


Mozzarella skulls

  • Slice the ball of mozzarella into 6 slices lengthwise. Using a 3-inch skull cookie cutter, cut out 6 skulls. Use an apple corer to cut out eyes and use a paring knife to cut a triangle out for the nose. Cut the half of the red onion into slices. (Note: I only cut 5 slices out of my mozzarella ball because a few of them were cut too thick, but if you don't do what I did and cut them evenly, you will be able to easily get 6 lengthwise slices)


  • Whisk Italian dressing, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and oregano in a medium zip lock bag or shallow plastic storage container. Add mozzarella skulls and red onions to bag and allow to marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator or overnight.

Meat Roses

  • Prepare meat roses by folding each slice of salami in half. Starting at one end roll the salami into a small bud. Fold another salami slice in half and wrap around the first bud, staggering seams. Repeat until you get the desired size of rose. NOTE: I used only 2 and 3 slices of salami to make two different sizes of roses for each type of meat for variation.
  • Make ahead and place them snuggly against each other in a shallow plastic storage container until ready to assemble. (NOTE: Some of these roses were too big as you can see in this picture, so I removed a few layers of salami petals so that each rose had only 2 or 3 slices of salami. The ones I removed I rolled up to make more small roses.)

Tomato Flowers

  • The easiest flower to make is the tulip. Cut an "X" in the top of the tomato and cut about 1/2 way through. To make a four petaled flower, use a little bit larger cherry tomato and make four shallow cuts around the sides of the tomato and pull them out a bit. Easy breezy.


  • Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter. Place skulls evenly around lettuce. Arrange artichokes in groups of 3 or 4 around the outer part of the platter. Next place meat roses next to each skull, mixing and balancing the types of meats. Add tomato flowers next, filling in next to the skulls and other areas. Add sliced pepperoncini in small clusters, filling in areas between the tomatoes, meats and artichoke hearts. Finally remove the onions from the marinade and arrange half rings around the outside and in between the flowers to add vines of color and interest.
  • I added two black olive spiders just for fun, but you can tuck whole olives in with the flowers to create more interest and flavor. Maybe fill in the olive hole with a piece of tomato or even pepperoncini to create the center of the olive flower. Or if you don't like black olives, use pimento stuffed green olives instead.
  • Serve remaining dressing and additional olives on the side.


This salad is a reimagined version of my Antipasto de los Muertos salad from Castellon's Kitchen.


  • Erin says:

    How do you keep the roses from uncurling?

    • Lori Castellon says:

      Hi Erin,
      If you use thin salami and pepperoni they will hold their shape pretty well especially if they sit overnight, so I recommend making the roses ahead of time and store them in a shallow dish, placing them snuggly next to each other and then when you’re ready to assemble your salad, again continue to place them snuggly next to each other or next to the tomato flowers and cheese skulls, building as you go. I hope that helps. 🙂

  • Ann says:

    What would you suggest as replacements for the salami/Pepperoni if I want to make this meat-free?

    • Lori Castellon says:

      I’d recommend using thinly sliced apples pears or veggies like cucumbers or zucchini. They would make great flowers.

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