It’s that time of the year when appetizer foods grab the spotlight! We are going to Washington, D.C. for New Year’s Eve this year for a little change of scenery. (Mazen is visiting Matt’s family in NC.) We’re meeting up with some of Thomas’s friends and going to a concert. I need an easy transportable appetizer that doesn’t require an oven, and these toothpick ideas are great for all party occasions.
These ideas for easy-to-assemble appetizers balance flavor and nutrition with a few healthy components that are still delicious. You can make them ahead of time, so you can enjoy good food but also not worry about preparing things at the last minute or keeping them warm. The best of both worlds!
Mini Beet Salads
The cutest little beet salad I ever did see, plus it has greens in the form of spicy arugula! Using a harder texture feta will allow these to stay together better.
- 5-6 small beets, cooked (you can often find these already cooked near the fruit at Whole Foods)
- 6 ounces feta
- Arugula (about 4 ounces)
- Walnut halves (about 1 cup)
- Optional: Balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette
- Cut beets into small squares.
- Dice feta into small cubes, about the same size as the chopped beats.
- Bring everything together: Fold the arugula leaves in half and bunch on the end of a toothpick, then add the beet. Carefully skewer the walnut (through the middle works best) and finish with the feta.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction or vinaigrette just before serving if desired, but of course the feta combination is also good on its own!
Zucchini Goat Cheese Roll Ups
Three ingredient magic with this one – just slice zucchini, spread with goat cheese, and roll up! Garnish with a little red pepper or some herbs. (You can cook or grill your zucchini if you like or just leave it raw.)
- 2-3 zucchinis
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Roasted red pepper (about 1), diced into small cubes or strips
- Thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise into long strips. A mandolin slicer should work well, but you can also just slice thinly with a sharp knife. If thinly sliced, raw zucchini will work great, but you could also grill them for added flavor and to make them softer.
- Gently spread the goat cheese in a thin layer across the strip of zucchini. You could add herbs at this point if desired.
- Skewer a small piece of red pepper and push it about halfway up.
- Roll up the zucchini. Add it below the red pepper on the toothpick.
Who doesn’t love a good antipasto? This one is totally flexible – mix it up with whatever sounds best to you. Sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers or zucchini bites, or even stuffed grape leaves would also be great additions!
- 6 ounces cured meat (salami works great)
- 1 jar olives, drained
- 1 can of artichoke hearts (sliced in quarters if they are large)
- Spinach or other salad greens
- Start with a base of greens. If you’re using spinach, fold the leaves in half and skewer first. This will ensure they stay in place!
- Next, fold a slice of meat in quarters and skewer below the spinach.
- Add the artichoke, followed by the olive to finish.
7 More Ideas
Because you can never have enough apps!
- Classic Caprese: Tomato + Basil + Mozzarella. Mozzarella balls work great here with cherry tomatoes. You can fold up the basil leaf in half to skewer it easily and neatly with the toothpick.
- Sweet + Savory Dates: Two ingredient magic: bacon or prosciutto wrapped dates (option to add a little blue cheese inside!)
- The Swiss Sandwich: Cheese square + Piece of Ham + Mini pickle. It’s like a mini fondue appetizer!
- Caesar Salad: Bite-sized lettuce tossed with dressing + a crouton + small piece of parmesan cheese. A small piece of crispy romaine would be perfect here!
- Cucumber + Smoked Salmon: Cucumber slices (if it’s a small cucumber, or thicker quarters if it’s bigger) + cream cheese + smoked salmon. Garnish with a caper!
- Meatballs: Harvest meatballs or sundried tomato meatballs. Turn them into mini ones for even more!
- Apple + Cheddar: Small diced sweet apple and cheddar chunks – a perfect pairing, especially with wine!