Today’s theme is Italian-style appetizers, all easy, all prepared in advance, all kept ready in the fridge for last-minute back-yard barbecues.
There are three recipes. The first recipe is for a Red Pepper Crostini (pictured just below), soft bits of onion and bell pepper on crisp homemade crostini. Next is a luscious anchovy-free olive spread called "Olivada" – I use olivada to make dramatic-appearing Olivada Appetizers that people just gobble up! The second is for Parmesan Crisps, just piles of grated parmesan baked in the oven, they magically turn into a parmesan "cracker".
For a delicious, dramatic looking Olivada Appetizer (pictured below), just spread a little olivada on a thin slice of a fresh baguette, top with a sliver of mozzarella or another soft, mellow cheese and a few bits of pimento or roasted pepper that's been patted dry.
This has been a "signature appetizer" for so many years! It's slightly fussy and must be assembled at the last minute so I use it only for small groups.
To make the olivada, pulse 2 garlic cloves in a food processor until very fine. Add a 12-ounce jar of good-quality Kalamata or nicoise pitted black olives (drained, obviously!) and 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (walnuts and sesame seeds work too). Pulse two or three times. Then, while still pulsing, slowly drizzle up to 3 tablespoons olive oil slowly into the food processor until a paste forms. You'll pulse more often for a smooth paste and less for one where the olive meat remains identifiable – this is my preference. Makes 1-1/3 cups.
Olivada Appetizer Per Appetizer: 78 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 2mg Cholesterol; 159mg Sodium; 5g Carb; 1g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2 & WW Points Plus 2.
PARMESAN CRISPS are so simple! For each crisp, place a heaping tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about a dozen per sheet. Shape into a rough round. Bake at 500F for 2 minutes. Remove from oven and top with a few blades of chopped chive. Return to oven for another minute or until deep gold in color. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to rack with a metal spatula.
RED PEPPER CROSTINI
Active time: 10 minutes for peppers, 5 minutes for bread
Occasional attention: 20 minutes for peppers, 15 minutes for bread
RED PEPPER MIXTURE
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced in 1” lengths
- 2 red peppers (not yellow, not orange), cut in thin 1” lengths
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon capers (or more)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 loaf crusty bread, about 2 inches in diameter (or larger if small loaf not available)
- Cream cheese, low-fat Neufchatel works great
- Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
PEPPER MIXTURE Heat a large skillet. Sauté the onion in olive oil until onion is soft. Add the pepper strips and sauté until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, capers and balsamic vinegar and simmer gently until liquid is reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 2-1/4 cups. Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.
CROSTINI Meanwhile, slice the loaf 1/4-inch thick, then again (if needed) to make pieces two or three bites big. Mist both sides with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Bake 350F/175C until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes, turning once. Let cool and transfer to freezer bag. If making ahead of time, store in the freezer until ready to serve. I get 36 thin slices from a demi French loaf from Trader Joe's.
TO SERVE To serve, spread the Crostini with cream cheese, then top with a little red pepper mixture and a parsley leaf. Serve within an hour.
So Pretty! One Bite At a Time!
Once you make Olivada (recipe above in the left column), it's easy to throw together one of my forever-favorite appetizers, just a sliver of soft crusty bread topped with a smear of Olivada, a thin bit of cheese and a bit of roasted pepper. That's it, so pretty!
More Easy Appetizer Recipes
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