How often have you had family or friends call and say they are coming over in a few hours for a holiday visit and, of course, you have nothing prepared? This Christmas season, be ready for unexpected guests and whip up these fast and easy appetizers.
Keep these food items on hand
If you frequently have drop-by visitors, it’s a good idea to always have a few essential ingredients on hand and a good arsenal of recipes that you can prepare in minutes.
Essential ingredients to keep in your kitchen:
- A variety of cheeses, particularly brie (these last weeks in the fridge)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (less perishable than fresh tomatoes)
- Jars of chutney or preserves
- Jar of olives
- Jar of capers
- Tin of anchovies
- A variety of crackers and chips
- Frozen pizza dough or flatbread
- Jar of roasted red peppers
- Smoked salmon and cans of tuna packed in olive oil
- Frozen mango chunks or other fruit
- Fresh herbs (you should be using these all year round!)
With this list of ingredients, you can prepare a delicious number of last-minute eats.
Italian platter: One of my stand-bys for last-minute guests is a simple tomato, mozzarella and basil platter topped with good extra-virgin olive oil. It’s quick, simple, and everyone loves it.
Baked brie: Another option in the cheese category is baked brie served with jam or prepared chutney and crackers or bread slices. Baked brie takes minutes to prepare and you don’t even need to wrap it in puff pastry. If you don’t have time to bake it (although it takes only 10 or 15 minutes) you can simply slice it and serve it with apple or pear slices or other fruit you have on hand.
Olive tapenade: Olive tapenade is another quick appetizer. You simply combine chopped olives, capers, salt or minced anchovies, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with crackers or crusty bread.
Gourmet pizza bites: Flatbreads or pizzas also function well as last-minute dishes. All you need is a premade pizza dough from the grocery store and whatever canned or fresh vegetables you have on hand. Olives work great as do mushrooms, prosciutto, anchovies or fresh herbs. You can even make a few kinds of each by cutting the dough into smaller squares. If you like sauce, use jarred, or if you like white pizza, dress it with olive oil.
Fast fruit salsa: A fruit salsa is also a nice change from the tomato onion variety. Chop up jarred roasted red peppers and combine with mango and/or other fruit, red onion and fresh cilantro. It makes an unexpected salsa that tastes great on tortilla chips.
Smoked salmon plate: Smoked salmon with capers and sour cheese on crackers or bread is also quick and delicious. You can just arrange everything on a platter and let guests make their own nibble.
Chocolate chip cookies: A get-together wouldn’t be complete without a dessert. Chocolate chip cookies can be made from scratch or from a premade dough. Put your own spin on this simple treat by mixing in nuts or white chocolate or peanut butter morsels.
Last-minute Christmas appetizers
Herb Baked Goat Cheese
Makes 8 to 10 servings
12 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 fresh sprigs thyme, chopped
2 fresh sprigs rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Crackers or crusty bread for serving
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place cheese in a small casserole dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
2. Take the casserole out of the oven and stir in oil, herbs, and salt and pepper. Serve with crackers or bread.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 cups canned artichoke quarters, drained
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Crackers or crusty bread to serve
1. Combine garlic, olive, capers, artichokes, lemon juice and oil in a food process or blender; blend until combined but still chunky.
2. Remove tapenade from processor and stir in salt. Serve with crackers or bread.
Spinach & Cheese Quesadillas
Makes 8 to 10 servings
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
10 large plain tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1. Place the spinach on 5 of the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese and top with remaining tortillas.
2. Cook tortillas in a skillet for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until outside is golden and cheese is melted.
More Christmas appetizer recipes
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