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How to Make Picada Argentina, the Country's Snack Tray

Argentinean-style tapas are great for gatherings with friends and family. Here’s how to put together a picada everyone will enjoy.
By Published Aug. 31, 2022

For Argentineans, picada is a reason to gather with friends. It’s a reason to hang out with family. 

Picada is basically a big tray of snacks. You can pick out whatever bites you want! Picada is often served on a tray or cutting board, scattered with all kinds of different things, including cheese; meats; olives; fruits; nuts; and leftovers, such as pieces of Milanesa. 

When I was creating my cookbook, Gaby’s Latin American Kitchen, I knew I wanted to include instructions on how to create picada Argentina.

Start by looking around your fridge. What do you see? Any good leftovers?

Then add some cheese, cold cuts, fruits, little canned fishes, potato chips, pretzels, crackers, bread, olives, dried fruits, nuts, or jarred artichokes—the options are quite literally endless . . . and you’ve got yourself a picada! 

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What do you do? Get the biggest cutting board you have, and arrange the cheeses, meats, and anything else you want to include in a beautiful manner. Serve!

I have some of my favorites listed below, but this picada is all about having fun. Here are the nine essential elements of picada.

  • Cheese: I like to have one hard, aged cheese; one tangy, sliceable option; and one creamy option. Some typical cheeses in Argentina are Reggianito, Mar del Plata, and Fresco, but if those are unavailable you can substitute Parmesan, gouda, and Brie.
  • Nuts: Something crunchy and salty, such as walnuts, almonds, or peanuts, really brightens up the spread!
  • Sauces: For dipping! Use mayonnaise, mustard, or even leftover chimichurri.
  • Cold cuts: You can pair these sliced meats with cheese and bread, a little bit of sauce, or anything else you like! Try using thinly sliced ham, salami, turkey, or prosciutto.
  • Brined things: I like black olives and green olives and pickled vegetables of all kinds. You can also look for jars of giardiniera.
  • Fruit: You can use fresh or dried fruit. Grapes look great on the tray. I like to add prunes or dates too.
  • Canned fish: Canned octopus is very popular in Argentina. You can get cans of squid in ink, sardines, or mussels at any gourmet foods store.
  • Bready things: Crackers and sliced bread are great, but have you ever tried cheddar cheese on a potato chip? I highly recommend it!
  • Something sweet: You can use slightly sweet bizcochitos de grasa or candy—because you always need something sweet!

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