Our Sunday suppers have been an excellent exercise in preparing quick cooking, easy-to-execute appetizers that offer everyone a little something to nibble on while they have a drink before the big meal. I’ve made nothing fancy to date, offering only the occasional cheese and cracker platter, bowls of olives and nuts, and some fresh bread with a nice spread.
However, all of this weekend cooking has turned my thoughts to holiday entertaining, and this year my goal is to make it as simple as possible. I want dishes that will be suitable for most eaters, are swift in their execution, and friendly for my wallet as we tend to feed A LOT of people in December and I need to keep the grocery bill in check when possible. Not to mention the small fact that by the time Christmas rolls around, I’ll be nearly 8 months pregnant and certain to be slowing down my pace just a little.
So here are three ideas I have for easy (not to mention gluten-free) appetizers to serve this holiday season. There is no denying that the bacon-wrapped potatoes are the definite crowd pleaser here. I discovered the recipe a few years ago on The Kitchn and was so pleased to see that it made the cut in the collection of recipes they chose for their newly published book. Having said that, never underestimate the simplicity of a bowl of mixed olives or some colourful goat cheese balls that look festive and seasonal on a plate.
What is your favourite easy appetizer to serve over the holidays?
Mixed Olives with Capers and Roasted Garlic
- 2 cups olives (mixed or all the same variety)
- 1/2 cup capers
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 head roasted garlic, peeled, cloves kept in tact
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed
Combine the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, roasted garlic cloves, and olive oil in a medium bowl and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the thyme and rosemary.
Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream
- 1 pound small or medium red potatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 12 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1-3 teaspoons sriracha or your favourite hot sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Wash potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces, keeping the chunks roughly the same size even if they aren't the exact same shape. If you can find small new potatoes you can use those instead, just cut them in half lengthwise. Place the potatoes in a medium pot, and cover with cold salted water: bring to a boil.
Once the water begins to boil, cook the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes, until you can stick a fork into them without too much resistance. You want the potatoes to be almost, but not fully, cooked through so they won't fall apart during the next steps.
Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.
Cut the strips of bacon into thirds crosswise. Wrap each potato bite in a piece of bacon, securing it with a toothpick. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil spaced an inch or two apart.
Cook the potatoes for 15 minutes, and then flip each piece. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and as crisp as you like it. Mix the sour cream and hot sauce in a small bowl. Pile the potato bites on a plate and serve alongside the dip.
Adapted from The Kitchn
Herbed Goat Cheese Balls
- 300g goat cheese
- 1 Tbsp. dill weed
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds or chopped nutes
- 2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- Optional: bread sticks
Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper and make small marble-sized balls with the goat cheese. Place cheese balls on the lined plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes minimum.
In three separate bowls place the dill, paprika, and poppy seeds. Roll 10 balls in each of the three coatings and set aside.
Pour the olive oil onto a serving plate and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and sea salt. Arrange the goat cheese balls on the platter and serve with toothpicks or small breadsticks on the side.
Looking for more holiday how-tos? Check out the rest of the series here: