Here are quick, easy appetizers that take less than 10 minutes to make. Serve them for guests or as snacks for the family.
This can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered, or canned whole peeled tomatoes, drained (about 4¼ cups)
¾ cup fat-free, low-salt chicken broth
1 cup fresh basil, cilantro or parsley, plus extra for garnish
6 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the tomatoes, chicken broth, herb, tomato paste, olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add the cayenne pepper, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Process to combine the flavors. Pour into a pitcher, and refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature, and pour into shot glasses or small martini glasses. Garnish with an herb in each glass. Serves six to eight.
BALSAMIC BLACK BEAN DIP
1 can black beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained (about 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 Tablespoon orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small red cabbage
Rinse and drain the black beans. Place in a blender or food processor with the onion, balsamic vinegar, garlic and orange juice. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice off the bottom of the cabbage so that it sits flat. Slice two inches off the top, and hollow out the center. Spoon the dip into the cabbage and refrigerate. To serve, bring to room temperature. Serves 10.
The shrimp can be broiled or grilled on a stove-top grill.
12 small wooden skewers (about 6 inches long)
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 large raw shrimp, shelled (frozen and thawed are fine)
Preheat the broiler—the rack should be about six inches from the heat. Soak the wooden skewers in water. Mix the sugar, salt, five-spice powder and pepper together. Toss the shrimp in the mixture. Thread one shrimp onto each skewer, making sure to pierce the shrimp in two places.
Line a baking sheet with foil, and add the shrimp skewers. Broil six inches from the heat for 30 seconds, turn and broil 30 seconds more. If using a stove-top grill, preheat the grill and cook the shrimp for the same amount of time. Serves six.
HONEY MUSTARD YOGURT DIP
This tangy sweet dip will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
½ cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
4 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
Drain the yogurt—place it in a colander lined with a paper towel or coffee filter, and set the colander over a pan or bowl for about two hours. Mix the mustard and honey together until smooth. Add the drained yogurt, and mix well. Taste for flavor, and serve with pita chips, sliced fruit or cut vegetables. Serves six to eight.
Olive oil spray
2 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
¼ pound Monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (1 Tablespoon)
Several basil leaves or cilantro or parsley sprigs, for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and spray with olive oil spray. Add one tortilla. Spread one-half cup of the shredded cheese over half the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese with one-half tablespoon jalapeño. Fold the tortilla in half, and press it down with a spatula. Turn it over, and press again. Cover the skillet with a lid for 30 seconds, or until the cheese melts. Remove from the skillet, and cut into six triangles. Repeat with the remaining tortilla, cheese and jalapeño. Garnish with herbs. Serves six.
This can be prepared several hours ahead, refrigerated until needed, brought to room temperature and then cooked right before serving.
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 8-ounce round Brie
1 cup cranberry chutney
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and add the almonds. Place the almonds in the oven while it preheats to toast them, about two minutes, or until they are golden.
Cut the Brie into two rounds by slicing one inch off the top. Spread half the cranberry chutney over the Brie base. Sprinkle half the toasted almonds over the chutney. Replace the top of the Brie, and spread the remaining chutney over it. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top. Place the Brie in the oven for seven minutes, then serve on a platter with crackers or small toasted baguette slices. Serves six to eight.
HUMMUS ENDIVE SPEARS
These spears can be made several hours in advance. To clean the endive, wipe the outer leaves with a damp paper towel.
1 large head endive
½ cup prepared hummus
2 sprigs cilantro or parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Cut one inch off the bottom of the endive. Remove the leaves, and place them in a circle on a round platter, thick ends toward the center. Place a rounded teaspoon of hummus in the thick end of each leaf. Snip the cilantro or parsley into small pieces, and place one piece on the hummus. Add the tomatoes to the center of the plate. Serves six.
OLIVE TAPENADE CROSTINI
These can be made one to two hours ahead. Olive tapenade can be found ready-made in jars at the supermarket.
1 small whole-wheat baguette
6 Tablespoons olive tapenade
1 Tablespoon pine nuts
Cut the baguette into half-inch slices on a diagonal. Lightly toast the slices. Spread tapenade over the toasted bread. Sprinkle pine nuts on top. Serves six.
SPICY TUNA PATÉ
8 pitted green or black olives
1 6-ounce can white meat tuna, packed in water and drained
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
½ cup fresh basil or cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 medium cucumbers, washed and sliced ½-inch thick on a diagonal
Place the olives, tuna, mayonnaise, horseradish and one-half cup of the basil or cilantro in a food processor, and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding horseradish or mayonnaise if desired. Just before serving, spread the pâté on cucumber slices and top with a small basil leaf or sprig of cilantro. Serves eight.