Anticipation of holiday gatherings begins as soon as the calendar turns to December. Keeping things simple in this age of overcrowded schedules is a must, so the idea of an easy appetizer buffet rather than a full-blown feast can be appealing.
These appetizers are from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas (Sterling Publishing, 2011), with photos by Susan Voisin. They’re suitable not only for vegans, but those on gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free diets.
To round out this inclusive holiday array with no additional work, offer one or two of the delicious hummus varieties that are available everywhere (serve with pita chips, and for the gluten-free crowd, baby carrots and/or gluten-free crackers), and lots of crisp seedless red grapes cut into small bunches.
You will also find lots more ideas for vegan appetizers on Nava’s site, VegKitchen, and on Susan’s FatFree Vegan Kitchen.
Hot Artichoke and White Bean Spread
Makes 2 cups
Hot artichoke dips are classic appetizer offerings. Serve with baby carrots, spoon-sized chunks of red bell pepper, and Belgian endive leaves. If gluten-free is not a concern, you can also add crackers and crispbreads to the mix.
1 tablespoon olive or other healthy vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15- to 16- ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup baby spinach, arugula, or watercress leaves
2 tablespoons fresh dill (preferred), or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated mozzarella-style nondairy cheese
Paprika for topping
Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until the onion is golden and just beginning to brown.
Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor, along with the beans and cream cheese. Process until smooth.
Add the artichoke hearts, spinach, dill, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pulse on and off until the artichokes and spinach are finely and evenly chopped but not pureed. Transfer the mixture to a small ovenproof container. Top with the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is golden.
Sprinkle the top with paprika. Serve hot or warm, providing a small spreading knife or serving spoon.
Olive Bar Medley with Tofu “Feta”
Colorful and briny, small servings of this appetizer go a long way. Choose two or three different varieties of pitted olives from your supermarket’s olive bar. Add one extra item, as listed in the last ingredient suggestions, in this list, such as pickled peppers or garlic, to spice up the mix.
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups mixed cured pitted olives
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1/2 to 3/4 cup pepperoncini, cherry peppers or other small pickled peppers,
or pickled garlic, or a combination
Slice the tofu into 4 slabs, crosswise. Blot between layers of paper towel or clean tea towels until you get out as much moisture as you can. Cut the slabs into 1/2 inch dice. Place in the serving container in which you plan to serve this, in a single layer. Toss with the lemon juice and oil; sprinkle with the salt and oregano. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients to the container and toss gently. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed, or served at once. Spoon small portions of this onto small plates; serve with cocktail forks or toothpicks.
For more information about Vegan Holiday Kitchen or to purchase a copy, click here.