It’s time for party perfection, with our three festive appetisers to impress your guests
Whether you celebrate Christmas, something else, or nothing at all, it’s difficult to avoid the abundance of sweet and savoury treats stocking up the supermarket shelves at this time of year.
For many, it’s a time for indulgence, celebration, and giving. It’s warm inside, with candles burning, and the smell of mulled wine filling our homes. We dress in sparkles and our conversations are constantly accompanied by the jingle of sleigh bells, or the hum of Mr Christmas himself, Michael Bublé.
So, to get you in the mood, or at least warming your hosting skills once more, we have collected some of our favourite festive appetisers. These are perfect if you want a small starter before the main feast, party snacks to impress your friends or just for yourself, or if you want to nibble on something delicious (before dipping into the selection box, of course).
The recipes have a maximum of just four ingredients; they are simple to make, but when presented with a delicate hand, look fit for a king. It doesn’t matter how good you are at cooking – make it, taste it, and if you can tear yourself away, serve it.
Remember to have fun while you’re doing it too – did you know that cooking is a great way to relax? Just what you need before the party begins...
Pear, camembert and prosciutto wraps
- 4 ripe conference pears
- 12 prosciutto slices, halved lengthways
- 12 small slices of camembert cheese
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/gas 4)
Wash and halve the pears. Slice each pear half into 3 wedges. Lay the prosciutto slices flat on a work surface, then put 1 pear wedge onto each, along with a slice of camembert. Roll up the prosciutto, then bake on a lined baking sheet for 10–15 minutes, until the ham is crisp and the pear is soft.
Nutrition coach Susan Hart says, “It’s important to watch your intake of processed meats, so a tasty alternative to the prosciutto could be ribbons of courgette, baked in the same way. This would also appeal to the vegetarian diner (though, check that the cheese doesn’t contain animal rennet!). For the vegan guest, use some vegan cream cheese instead of camembert, and the courgette ribbons.”
Fig and goat’s cheese puffs
- Ready-rolled puff pastry, 1 sheet
- 1 egg, beaten
- 100g log goat’s cheese
- 4 small figs, quartered
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/gas 6).
Lay out the pastry. Cut out small bite-sized (4cm) circles, and put on a non-stick baking sheet. Brush with the egg, then add a slice of goat’s cheese and push on a piece of fig. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
“The ready rolled pastry is a quick cheat and is usually made with oil, which is lower in saturated fat than buttery versions. These puffs make a tasty vegetarian canapé, but again, make sure the cheese is vegetarian friendly,” says Susan. “To veganise the dish, use plant-based milk instead of egg, vegan cheese instead of goat’s cheese, or use walnuts, which will increase your omega 3 fatty acids.”
Salmon and cream cheese lettuce cups
- 65g Philadelphia Original Spreadable Cream Cheese
- 3 tsp horseradish cream
- 1 baby cos lettuce
- 125g sliced smoked salmon
Combine the cream cheese and horseradish cream in a small bowl. Using the centre lettuce leaves (perfect “bowl” size!), separate, wash and pat dry. Arrange the 12 smaller leaves on a serving plate. Tear the salmon and divide between the leaves. Top with a dollop of cream cheese and season with pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
Want an extra crunch? Swap the lettuce cups for crisp breads or blinis!
“Like walnuts, salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which is great for brain and heart health. You can buy grated horseradish that is cream-free, which will slightly reduce the calorie and fat content of the dish if that’s what you’d prefer. Using the lettuce as a bowl is a great idea and increases your intake of vitamin K for bone maintenance,” explains Susan. “For vegans and vegetarians, use slices of ripe avocado, with (non dairy) horseradish mixed with hummus.”
Susan Hart is a nutrition coach and speaker. As well as delivering healthy eating advice to individuals, Susan hosts regular workshops and runs vegan cooking classes. Learn more about Susan on Nutritionist Resource.