3 Easy Appetizers for the Holidays

Ring in the new year with these recipes from the garden.

Tomato-Basil Crostini

Tomato-Basil Crostini

Tomato-Basil Crostini is a stylish and flavorful appetizer. 

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Tomato-Basil Crostini is a stylish and flavorful appetizer. 

The best party hosts always make it look so effortless. Spotless house, well-stocked bar, the perfect playlist playing on the stereo. Most importantly, the food is somehow casual and elegant and appears without a hint of panic. If you’re hosting this year, we can help with that last part. Here are three garden-fresh recipes to help get you started.

Tomato-Basil Crostini

Fast, easy and bursting with bright, simple flavors, tomato-basil crostini can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes. The light crunch and fresh taste of this classic canapé is sure to please.

Yield: About 2 dozen

  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1 baguette
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine tomatoes, basil, salt, garlic and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl and refrigerate 3 hours to overnight.

Cut twenty-four 1/4”-1/2" slices from baguette and arrange on a baking sheet.

Drizzle  olive oil on baguette slices and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until well-toasted with browned edges.

Drain and discard any excess liquid from the tomato mix and top each piece of bread with a spoonful of tomato-basil topping.

Spinach Bites

Served warm or at room-temperature, these spinach and parmesan hors d'oeuvres have just a hint of nutmeg for the holidays. Best of all, this fabulous finger food can be frozen days or weeks in advance to be thawed and baked when the big day arrives.

Yield: About 2 dozen

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Combine spinach, panko, Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Stir in butter and eggs until fully combined.

Roll into 1 inch balls.

Cover and refrigerate at least 90 minutes or wrap and freeze for use on a later date.

Arrange on a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve with spicy mustard.

Baked Ricotta with Garden-Fresh Herbs

Creamy baked  ricotta is easy to make and is always a  popular addition to the appetizer table.  If you’re growing herbs indoors this winter, this surprisingly simple recipe will put them to spectacular use. 

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)

Stir ricotta, cream, basil, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper together in a large bowl until smooth and well-combined.

Transfer into a buttered casserole dish (may be covered and refrigerated overnight for “day-before” preparation).

Drizzle with olive oil.

Garnish with a dusting of additional chopped herbs, if desired.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve with crackers, pita chips or toasted slices of crusty bread.

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