February 10, 2013

Vegetarian friends attending your party might need some foods requiring a little pre planning. Salsa, guacamole, French onion dip, spinach dip and hummus are naturally vegetarian dips. Man cannot live on dips alone, you might say. So, what other common options are available, needing little effort or extra planning?

Five Vegetarian Appetizer Ideas

Pesto is nicely vegetarian and is delicious spread on some crusty bread, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and broiled until the cheese is bubbly. Most people love these. Pesto can be mixed with some cream cheese and used to stuff little hollowed out cherry tomatoes. Making pesto at home is a very simple thing. In a food processor combine 2 packed cups each of basil and parsley, half cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 2 or 3 minced cloves garlic and process to a paste. Slowly add in a half cup of olive oil until combined. For a taste change, try making pesto with arugula substituting for some or all of the basil.

Little mini quiches are a hit with the entire crowd and are also vegetarian. Mix together in a bowl, 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, 6 crushed saltine crackers, 4 eggs and 3 chopped green onions. Drain a 12 ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, then chop the artichokes and add to the bowl. Mix well and scoop into greased mini muffin tins. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until set and lightly browned. These little quiches are excellent served with some hot sauce on the side. If these are made without the crackers mixed in, the texture is slightly looser, but equally good, and naturally gluten free.

Cheese balls can easily be meat free. Those found in the grocery commonly contain no meat. If you make one at home, you have control of what is added in. A nice combination might be 16 ounces cream cheese, 8 ounces other cheese, such as shredded cheddar or Parmesan, 2 teaspoons of curry powder or Garam Masala and 1/4 cup mango chutney. Mix this combination well, form into a ball or balls and roll in chopped nuts or parsley to serve.

Little skewers of cheeses and condiments will make an excellent vegetarian combination. Use assorted cheeses. You may use a common cheese such as cheddar, colby or jack, or you might get fancier and use cheeses like Manchego or Gruyere, among others. Pair the cubed cheeses on skewers with slices of sweet or dill pickle, pitted olives such as black, green or Kalamata. Other things such as red or yellow cherry tomatoes, chunks of bell pepper and leafy herbs such as basil might be added. Other tasty additions are marinated artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers.

Medjool dates are excellent additions to any party. They are luscious and sweet and pair well with savory additions. Try stuffing them with chunks of feta cheese for that savory bite, or cut them in half around the middle and insert one pecan half for beautiful presentation.

As with other specialty diet considerations, it is best to read labels carefully in order to avoid little pitfalls. So many items carry ingredients one would never have realized. Be aware, and note how many wonderful foods exist that are completely and naturally vegetarian.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking and help pass along my love and joy of food. I would love to hear from you! Join my "e-family" and share recipes, stories and good times in the kitchen. Visit my Web site http://www.aharmonyofflavors.com/ my Blog at http://www.aharmonyofflavors.blogspot.com/ my Marketplace at or join me on Facebook. Let me know, and I will send you a copy of my monthly news letter full of recipes the latest tips.

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