Holiday Appetizers

  in Blog

Whether you’re headed to an ugly sweater party or an intimate soiree, appetizers are required! Find some delicious inspiration with small bites that will please every palate, from Cheesy Potato Skins to Pea Pesto.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

24 dried dates
1/4 cup ground almonds or hazelnuts
4 oz. soft goat cheese

Heat oven to 375°F. Slit dates on one side and remove pits. Place ground nuts on a small plate. Stuff each date with 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese. Dip slit side of dates in ground nuts to coat the cheese. Place on a cookie sheet, slit side up, and bake about 12 minutes, or until dates are hot and cheese is soft. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Turkish Carrot Yogurt Dip

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups gently packed, coarsely shredded carrots (3 – 4 medium)
1/3 cup pine nuts, minimally chopped
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 garlic cloves
2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
Assorted dippers such as flat bread and raw veggies.

  1. Mince the garlic cloves, then mash into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Sprinkle.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. When oil shimmers, add carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes. 
  3. Add pine nuts and salt. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 5 or 6 minutes, or until carrots are completely soft and beginning to brown and the pine nuts are golden. Add garlic and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.  
  4. In a medium bowl, stir the carrot mixture into the yogurt. Drizzle with additional olive oil just before serving. Serve with crackers, vegetables, etc.

Crispy Cheesy Potato Skins

8 russet potatoes (about 5 lb.), washed
Olive oil for rubbing
1/2 cup butter, melted 
Sea salt and black pepper
8 oz shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked, drained, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Sour cream 

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Poke potatoes all over with a sharp knife and rub with oil.
  2. Place potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Roast until soft, 60-75 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Heat broiler to high. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving about a ¼ inch of potato. (Save the scooped out potato for another use.) Brush insides of potatoes with melted butter and season with salt and pepper; return to rack. Broil until crisp and flesh is golden, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle cheese and bacon evenly among the potatoes. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, green onions, and black pepper.

Sweet Potato Rounds with Gorgonzola

Recipe by Ali Lopez

2 sweet potatoes, large, and fairly uniform size5 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, sea salt, and cinnamon.  Add the cranberries to a small baking dish, pour the mixture over the cranberries, and stir to combine. Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Remove foil, add maple syrup or honey, and stir well. Let stand 10 minutes then stir again. At this point, the cranberries should fall apart, the juices should thicken, and mixture should look like jam. Set aside until ready to use. 
  2. While the cranberries cook, cut the sweet potatoes into half inch thick rounds. Place sweet potato rounds on a baking tray and toss lightly in the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake the rounds for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until soft but not mushy.
  3. Transfer to a serving tray and top with the cranberries, cheese, and walnuts.

Adzuki Bean Hummus

2 cups cooked adzuki beans*
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon paprika + more for sprinkling

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, etc, if needed. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. Accompany with corn chips, pita chips, crackers, and fresh veggies.

*To cook adzuki beans: soak 1 1/2 cups adzuki beans in water overnight on the countertop. Drain, rinse, and add to a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off foam. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook for about 45 minutes until beans are al dente. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking until beans are soft, another 15 minutes or so. Drain. Let cool before using for hummus.

Tofu Dill Spread

1 lb firm tofu, drained
¼ cup red onion, minced
½ green pepper, minced
1/2 red pepper, minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1 dill pickle, minced
½ cup mayonnaise or veganaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dill
2 teaspoons mustard
white pepper to taste

Mince all vegetables or chop fine using a food processor. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl, crumble tofu well using a fork. Add the dressing mixture and vegetables and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes about 3 cups.

Beet Caviar

4 medium beets, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
5 pitted prunes, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup yogurt

Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle cut beets with olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 45  minutes until tender. Using a food processor, pulse beets, prunes, and walnuts, until mixture has the grainy texture of caviar. Place mixture in a bowl and mix in yogurt. Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables

Cinnamon Glazed Almonds

From Almond Board of California

1/3 cup butter
2 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch salt
1 cup cane sugar
3 cups whole almonds
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place butter on a large rimmed baking sheet and place pan in oven to melt butter (about 7 minutes). Meanwhile, beat egg whites with salt until frothy; gradually add sugar, beating into stiff peaks. Gently fold in almonds and cinnamon. Pour almond mixture onto pan; toss with butter. Bake about 40 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until almonds are crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store cooled almonds in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Tex Mex Deviled Eggs

6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
6 slices pickled jalapeño, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
paprika for sprinkling

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer eggs 10 minutes. Drain and add cold water to the pot. Let eggs sit in cold water a few minutes.
  2. Peel eggs. Cut each egg in half and scoop yolks into a small bowl. Mash the egg yolks with a fork and mix in the mayo, mustard, jalapeño, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more mayo if it seems dry.
  3. Arrange egg whites on a platter. Spoon filling into cavities evenly and sprinkle with a little paprika. Serve immediately or store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Crispy Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, washed and thoroughly dried in a salad spinner
1 -2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt or seasoned salt
1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the ribs from the kale leaves. Cut kale leaves into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and nutritional yeast to evenly coat. Lay on baking sheets in a single layer. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 15 minutes.