Appetizers to the rescue

February 24, 2012

Food, Recipes

Having friends and family over is a snap when the menu features an array of mingle-friendly finger foods.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

Having friends and family over is a snap when the menu features an array of mingle-friendly finger foods. For more inspiration, check the Internet, where you can find lots of recipes for delicious dips and snacks — all guaranteed to help get your dinner or party off to a great start. Whether entertaining a crowd or just making a meal for two, appetizers can be fun and easy, as well as big lifesavers for the hosts when the food is not yet ready and too many drinks are being poured. Here are some recipes to help you plan in style.


Double Tomato Bruschetta


  • 6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 French baguette, sliced
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat the oven on broiler setting. In a large bowl, combine the Roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices. Top the slices with mozzarella cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Yield: 12 servings.


Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa


  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve with chips.


Brochettes of Melon, Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 medium shallot, quartered
  • 1 small (about 2-pound) cantaloupe, halved crosswise, seeded, cut into 6 wedges and peeled
  • 6 small, fresh, water-packed mozzarella balls or one 8-ounce ball, drained
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, cut lengthwise, gathered into a ruffle
  • 6 (8-inch) wooden skewers


Using on/off pulses, purée olive oil, 1/3 cup basil and shallot in processor until basil and shallot are finely chopped. Cut each cantaloupe wedge crosswise in half. If using large mozzarella ball, trim and cut into 6 cubes. Alternate a melon piece, a piece ruffled prosciutto, a mozzarella ball or cube, another prosciutto piece and melon piece on each skewer. Can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Arrange skewers on platter. Drizzle with basil oil. Garnish with basil sprigs. Yield: 6 servings.


Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips


  • • kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 8 ounces raspberries
  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor
  • 10 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • Butter, softened, or butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar


In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter or butter-flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow wedges to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.


Italian Brie


  • 1 (8-ounce) round Brie
  • 1 (3.5-ounce) jar prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped


Trim and discard rind from top of Brie. Place Brie on a serving plate; spread top with pesto and sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with black olives and French baguette slices or crackers.


Sources:, and and Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 3, June/July 2011.

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