By Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor of EatingWell
An invitation to dinner is just about all the appetizer I need-I'm so happy to have someone feed me that I'm not fussy about what's on the menu. But if, when I arrive, there are little nibbles to start things off, it's a delightful bonus. Appetizers really take gatherings up a notch, showing an attention to detail I appreciate.
And hors d'oeuvres don't have to add a lot of time to your meal prep-here I've picked 5 no-cook appetizers that are practically ready in an instant. There's at least one thing these 5 easy appetizer recipes have in common: an instant (read: store-bought) foundation. The part you make rests on a tasty cracker, chip or toasted baguette you buy. Think of that box of fancy crackers as a lifeboat full of party-savers. You can top the crackers with just about anything and they'll keep the evening floating along.
Another great thing about these finger foods is that they won't break the bank: it's just a mini splurge to get the special ingredients the recipes call for, because the amounts are small.
For Blue Cheese & Fig Bites, you just need ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese and 9 figs to produce 24 elegant apps on slices of whole-wheat baguette.
Shrimp-Pepper Poppers are fun to say and easy to make-just three ingredients resting on a little raft (a round melba toast, in this case). See how to make Shrimp-Pepper Poppers.
Marinated olives are a super-handy staple for instant entertaining-and it's easy to marinate your own, as you do for Marinated Olives & Feta.
"Nosh" is one of my favorite words, with its grazing connotations (num-num-num), and Roast Beef & Beet Nosh is one of my favorite noshes.
We call these mini crab rolls "deconstructed" because you take the tasty inside bits-pickled ginger, crabmeat, sesame seeds-and serve them on rice crackers instead of rolling them up. Your guests will be delighted when you greet them with this little appetizer (pictured above)-no need for them to know how little time you actually took to make it.
Deconstructed Spicy Crab Roll
Makes: 2 dozen
Active time: 10 minutes | Total: 10 minutes
Top rice crackers with pickled ginger and crabmeat for a sushi-bar-inspired appetizer. For the best flavor, use refrigerated pasteurized crabmeat labeled "jumbo." Try a dollop of wasabi on top for extra zing.
24 small round rice crackers
24 slices pickled ginger
4 ounces cooked jumbo crabmeat (about 1 cup; see Tip), drained if necessary, any shells or cartilage removed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons hot sesame oil
Place a slice of pickled ginger on each cracker. Divide crab evenly among the crackers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with oil.
Per piece: 26 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 5 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 47 mg sodium; 19 mg potassium.
Tip: Crab from both the U.S. and Canada is considered a good choice for the environment. If you live in an area known for crab, you may be able to get freshly cooked crabs at the seafood counter of your local market.
What's your favorite appetizer?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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