Appetizers set the tone for a wonderful meal, provide the perfect compliment for drinks at a cocktail party or simply curb your hunger as a convenient snack. They are so versatile and satisfying, in fact, that it’s often tempting to stuff yourself with appetizers and forego the entree altogether. Go ahead. Let temptation take control. It saves you the torture of trying to narrow your choice down to just one starter and it’s far more pleasing in the end.
Simple to Eat, Simple to Make
There aren’t many rules to making a meal from appetizers. Incorporating interesting flavors and ingredients helps when putting together a tempting assortment of snacks that are satisfying enough to be called dinner. Interesting doesn’t have to mean exotic or hard to find, though. The really great appetizers are the ones that use a short list of ingredients, typically items you already have in the refrigerator or on your pantry shelf. They assemble easily so that you can spend time enjoying your company instead of spending it in the kitchen carving intricate landscapes from cheese.
If you long ago ran out of inspired ideas for starters that are worthy to usurp the entree’s place on the dinner table, here are a few that will impress the first time out of the gate. Everyone’s a winner when you put together these delicious bites for a meal friends and family will remember.
Mediterranean Starter Stick
Olives, cheese and sundried tomatoes come together shish-kebab style for an appealing starter that is light enough to serve as an appetizer for your meal of appetizers.
- 18 pitted green olives
- 18 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained
- 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 18 cubes
- Thread ingredients onto skewers
Salsa is a delicious way to work your veggies into a meal — especially a meal constructed of appetizers. You can buy roasted red peppers in a jar at the market, but you can also roast them on a foil-covered baking sheet under the broiler until they’re blackened. Let them cool in a paper bag, then peel away the skin before using them.
- 1 pkg. (3.5 oz.) crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
- 1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup chopped red onions
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumbers
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup Greek Vinaigrette with feta cheese and oregano dressing made with extra virgin olive oil
- Mix all ingredients until well blended.
- Serve with toasted pita chips.
Barbecue-Bacon Party Spread
You won’t want to wait for a party to put together this layered dip. The genius is in the fusion of the bold flavors that work together to make what will certainly become a staple recipe for parties, get-togethers and other important occasions — like Thursday night.
- 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 pkg. (2.52 oz.) fully cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Spread cream cheese onto platter.
- Drizzle with barbecue sauce.
- Top with remaining ingredients.
Baked Crab Rangoon
Smooth and creamy meets crisp and succulent in an appetizer that has flavor and style. Substitute Neufchatel cheese and light mayonnaise to make a lighter version of this classic.
- 1 can (6 oz.) white crabmeat, drained, flaked
- 4 ox. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 12 won ton wrappers
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix first 4 ingredients.
- Place 1 won ton wrapper in each of 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray, extending edges of wrappers over sides of cups. Fill with crab mixture.
- Bake 18 to 20 min. or until edges of cups are golden brown and filling is heated through.
Brewery Spiced Wings
These satisfying wings are most certainly the ones that first inspired anyone to make a meal from appetizers. Pairing wings and beer together in one saucy, spicy appetizer you’ll have them begging for more. Be a thoughtful host and put a tub of moist towelettes right on the table.
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lb. chicken wings, separated at joints, tips removed
- 3/4 cup beer blend barbecue sauce
- Mix first 4 ingredients; pour over chicken in shallow dish. Turn chicken over to evenly coat both sides of each wing. Refrigerate 30 min. to marinate.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
- Grill chicken 15 min., turning occasionally. Brush lightly with barbecue sauce. Grill 5 min. or until chicken is done, turning and brushing frequently with remaining sauce.