10 Ten-Minute Appetizer Recipes

by Kendra Vizcaino, Gourmet

It's every host's worst nightmare. Your significant other has invited the boss over for drinks and "just a few nibbles." But there's no need to panic! Hand them a cocktail-and pour yourself one, too-and then take 10 minutes to whip up an array of appetizers that look and taste as if you'd been in the kitchen for hours.

See also: 10 Outrageous Pies

1. Prosciutto-Wrapped Bread Sticks

You can't go wrong with this Italian staple: a slice of prosciutto wrapped around a crunchy, slim bread stick or a fresh, slender asparagus spear. If you don't have prosciutto on hand, opt for any other high-quality variety of thinly sliced cured meat, such as ham or bresaola. Display this simple snack standing upright in a tall glass, making it the ultimate grab-and-go nibble for guests.

2. Pea Pesto

Fresh or frozen peas add a burst of flavor and color to any dish. For a quick-fix spread, combine 2 cups fresh (or 10 ounces frozen and thawed) peas with 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts in a blender. Turn on the blender and stream in enough olive oil to create a smooth purée. If you're out of pine nuts, walnuts also work very well. Slather the creamy mixture on toasted baguette rounds or crackers and top with Parmesan shavings. We guarantee that adults and children alike will be reaching for this veggie-packed snack.

3. Marinated Olives

Olives are the first and best line of defense against hungry guests, as a small bowlful of this savory fruit will stall appetites as you finish up in the kitchen. Take it one step further by raiding your fridge to create a snack plate starring marinated olives in addition to roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, gherkins, sliced hearts of palm, pickled cocktail onions, marinated mushrooms, and any other bite-size, ready-to-eat items you have on hand.

4. Goat Cheese Bites

For these easy morsels, scoop portions of cheère with a melon baller or a small spoon to form 1-inch balls. Gently shape the balls into smooth spheres and roll them in finely chopped fresh herbs, dried spices, or crushed nuts. The tangy cheese pairs well with chives, thyme, dill, black pepper, cumin, paprika, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. Once the balls are sufficiently coated, skewer them with a toothpick and stand back as they fly off the plate.

5. Salmon Roll-Ups

Smoked salmon is so much more than a bagel-topper, especially when rolled inside a delicate crêpe or flour tortilla. Spread your carb of choice with softened cream cheese, add a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and then scatter with chopped fresh chives, lemon zest, and a couple of slices of smoked salmon. Roll the crêpe or tortilla tightly into a log and slice it into 1- to 2-inch rounds for party-perfect bites.

See also: 8 Great Tips for Homemade Sushi Rolls

6. Almond- and Blue Cheese-Stuffed Dates

Sweet meets savory in this classic duo featuring almond and blue cheese crumbles tucked inside pitted dates. Other stuffing ideas include pecans and Brie, hazelnuts and Pecorino, or pistachios and Feta. Helpful hint: As endless as the possibilities may seem, don't forget to taste a new combination before its debut to ensure it has the right balance of sweetness and salty tang.

7. Tea Sandwiches

Kick-start your impromptu party by turning today's lunch ingredients into all-star hors d'oeuvres. Assemble any variety of sandwich fillers-such as warm egg salad spiced with curry; thinly sliced salami and sharp Cheddar; and crunchy cucumbers and roasted garlic hummus-between your preferred slices of bread, then trim off the crusts and slice the sandwiches into triangles or squares. Don't shy away from savory spreadables like chopped liver, pimento cheese, or pâté.

8. White Bean Dip

This easy appetizer is creamy, spreadable, and downright addictive. Using your blender, combine one can of drained and rinsed white (like cannellini or navy) beans with a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 garlic cloves, and enough olive oil to create a purée. Once the mixture is smooth, add the juice of half of a lemon, plus salt and pepper to taste, and pulse until combined. Serve with assorted crudités or pita chips.

9. Sweet or Savory Skewers

Toothpicks transform commonplace ingredients into finger-friendly appetizers. Opt for plain or decorative toothpicks to assemble layers of lively flavors and eye-catching colors. Our favorite combinations include olives with mozzarella and tomato; strawberries with grapes and pineapple; salami with Provolone and peperoncini; and chicken with Swiss cheese and ham. Cut larger items into bite-size pieces, and don't be shy when it comes to creative combos.

10. Ricotta and Honey Crostini

Delicious enough for dessert, the heavenly pairing of fresh ricotta and honey doubles as an excellent solution to last-minute munchies. Top toasted baguette rounds or crispy crackers with a hearty dollop of ricotta cheese. Follow up with a thick drizzle of honey for a creamy, cheesy finger food with just a touch of sweetness. If fresh ricotta isn't a staple in your fridge, cream cheese or crème fraîche are both fine substitutes.

More from Gourmet Live:
15 Perfect Pasta Dishes
Gourmet's Classic Comfort Foods
Chocolate Desserts to Bake This Month

The Best Sandwiches Across the Globe

Photos: CN Digital Studio; John Kernick; Lauren Salkeld; Anna Williams