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3-Ingredient Ham and Cheese Rollups

Start your Italian meal in style with our tasty take on antipasti. Although various types of Italian cheese and Italian cured meats are often served individually before an entrée in Italy, we have taken those components, added a little pesto and combined the three to make these rollups. The great thing about this recipe is you can make a huge batch of these in mere minutes, just by being organized, laying out your ingredients and making a lot at once. They are then perfect for an Italian-themed party.

You can use any kind of dried or cured meat to make these – chorizo, salami, Parma ham, Serrano ham, or even a mixture of these. People will be able to see which is which. As for the cheese, pretty much anything goes, so consider mozzarella, Cheddar (not Italian but still good!), cream cheese, ricotta, gorgonzola, or anything you want. Soft cheese is fine as long as it does not get too warm and begin to ooze out, and harder cheeses are also good; if you are using something like parmesan then cut it into lengths rather than using it grated or shredded which could be messy.

A little pesto sauce works well here, both to add another flavor to the appetizer and also to help the meat stay closed around the cheese. You will only need a tiny bit. If you do not want to use basil pesto, try red pesto, a little mayonnaise, black olive tapenade, or anything else which goes well with the meat and cheese flavors. Because they are rolled up, you can serve these little bites as finger food with cocktails or as an appetizer before the entrée. In either case, a couple per person is a good quantity. Make extra if you want (to be sure you do not run out) then cover and refrigerate them so you can enjoy them the next day.

Cheese and Ham Appetizers in a Hurry
Summary: This is an appetizer you can make in just a few minutes. Add your favorite Italian cheese to your favorite cured meat and roll them up after dotting with pesto.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 5
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 10 large slices salami, chorizo or Parma ham
  • 8 oz Italian cheese (any kind)
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto sauce
  1. Cut or shape the cheese into 10 long pieces.
  2. Put one on each slice of meat.
  3. Smear a little pesto along the cheese.
  4. Roll up the meat.
  5. Arrange these on a platter seam side-down to help them stay closed.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours if not serving immediately.

Photo Description:

Italian appetizers do not get much simpler than this. Although if you are serving an appetizer at the dinner table, you might prefer to lay out your cured meats and cheeses and allow people to help themselves, combining the ingredients to make rollups means you can serve them as finger food instead. You can see we used chorizo, Parma ham and then, at the bottom, salami. Any meat is good but a good tip is using a hard cheese (less fatty) if you are using a particularly fatty meat. Feel free to tweak these, swapping the pesto for black olive tapenade, or adding a pickle sliver inside each one for a salty surprise.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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