How many times have you heard someone say that?
If we’re friends in real life, then you probably hear it from me every time we’re out for dinner. I love appetizers, especially party appetizers. And I love throwing dinner parties with multiple apps, lots of wine, and dessert. The main course is typically simple, almost like an afterthought (although I do make some mean entrees too, like this sangria chicken), but I take great joy in preparing – and eating! – these little bites.
I put together five of my favorite appetizers. These are all easy to prepare, with simple ingredients and few instructions. I guarantee they would be a hit at your next dinner party.
(Or if you want to just make a bunch and eat it for dinner, let me know and I will come over!)
Tarte Flambee – this is also known as flammekueche, but I prefer a recipe title I can pronounce. It’s an Alsatian dish of a rolled out dough and traditionally topped with creme fraiche, onions, and lardons. It’s essentially a fancy French pizza. My version is make with frozen puff pastry, and I also add a little gruyere on top for extra cheesy goodness. Cut it in squares to serve at your next party, and your guests will be saying “oui!”
Goat Cheese and Avocado Bruschetta with Hot Pepper Jelly – make bruschetta from slices of a French baguette: brush generously with olive oil, then toast in a hot oven. Then mash an avocado, season it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of chili pepper flakes, and slather it on. Top the bruschetta with goat cheese and finish it with hot pepper jelly, which has the perfect balance of sweetness, tartness, and spice.
Stuffed Mushrooms – I can’t have an appetizer round-up without this classic! If you’re thinking, “Ooooh, stuffed mushrooms! A vegetarian appetizer! I wonder if it’s healthy…” I’m sorry, sweet friend, but this is neither vegetarian nor healthy. These are roasted white mushrooms caps stuffed with Italian sausage, two kinds of cheese, and crunchy breadcrumbs. Indulgent and delicious.
Cheese Plate with Homemade Pimiento Cheese – cheese plates are the best. I like having two or three kinds, some sort of jam, and crackers or mini pita rounds. Then I add fresh berries, dried fruit, and some nuts. I also like adding a little homemade touch, and in particular my pimiento cheese has always been well received. It’s creamy and mildly spicy, the cheese spread of my childhood. Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, that’s it.
Strawberry Ricotta Crostini – who says you can’t serve chocolate as an appetizer? Fine, if you really want to save chocolate for dessert, then drizzle this crostini with a balsamic vinegar reduction, and top with freshly cracked black pepper. But I definitely prefer the sweet version: crunchy crostini, creamy ricotta, sweet strawberries, and a dark chocolate ganache. You can make these in minutes and even if your drizzling skills (not to be confused with Drizzy) are atrocious, nobody ever complains about thick rivers of chocolate.
Do you have a signature dinner party dish? What’s your favorite appetizer?