Even if you’re an omnivore, it’s nice to offer up at least one meat-free option when hosting a party, as it’s likely some of your guests are vegetarian, or even vegan. Thankfully, there are an array of options so superb that no one will miss out on the meat at all.

#1 Creamy Broccoli Spread

This is an absolutely scrumptious appetiser dip that tastes wonderful on crackers or spread on a tortilla or sandwich with fresh tomatoes and lettuce and have it for lunch.

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Makes 2 cups

  • 4 cups broccoli florets (or two small heads)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 to 4 dill pickles, diced (depends on for taste on pickles)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vegan mayonaise

Steam broccoli florets until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, mash steamed broccoli.  Add celery and pickle, and stir in mustard and mayonnaise.  You can also use a blender to whip broccoli with mustard and mayonnaise and then add celery and pickles.

#2 Courgette & Carrot Fritter

These bad boys freeze perfectly. Just slip squares of parchment paper between each fritter before freezing so they’re easy to take out.

They can be served as an appetiser served with Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip) or a quick snack on the go or a convenient lunch during the work week next to a green salad.

  • 1 large courgette
  • 8 medium carrots
  • 1 bunch green onions or 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chickpea four

Directions:

To start, peel and grate courgette and carrots. Dice the onions, garlic, and parsley. Set aside. Pre-heat a skillet to medium-high and brush it gently with coconut oil. Sauté onion and garlic. Stir together the prepared vegetables, onion and flour. Use a 1/3 measuring cup to scoop the batter onto the heated skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes and flip. Cook an additional 2 minutes and remove from heat. Sprinkle liberally with salt and allow the fritters to cool slightly before serving.

#3 Crispy Veggie Pizza

The veggies atop this pie will have you begging for more, but won’t add inches to your waste line. Fibrous bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes don’t have the extra calories to fill you up.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/3 cup sliced jarred roasted bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup baby rocket

Optional: add sautéed mushrooms and olives.

easy-vegetarian-appetizers_2Preheat oven to 180C°. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil to pan. Place onion in pan; sauté until caramelised (20-25 minutes), stirring frequently. Cut 4 sheets phyllo dough in half. Lightly coat 1 piece with cooking spray; place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Place another phyllo half on top of the first; coat with cooking spray. Repeat until all sheets are stacked and coated.

Bake until golden and crispy (10-12 minutes); cool.

Top phyllo with cheese crumbles, sautéed onion, roasted bell peppers, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Top with rocket leaves. Cut into 8 slices; serve.

#4 Potato Boats

Potato boats can be filled with just about anything from simple cheese to scrambled eggs veggies, and shredded meats.  These boats can be made a day or two in advance and kept tightly covered before their final frying or filling.

  • 2 potatoes, about 8 oz. total, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh smooth-ground corn masa for tortillas, or 1 cup powdered masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. warm water

Toppings

  • 1 cup cooked black beens, coarsely mashed and warmed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 generous cups loosely packed torn herb leaves, such as watercress, arugula, mizuna
  • 1/2 cup Vegan, Pecorino Romano or Mexican queso anejo cheese

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the potatoes with water to cover by 2 inches and season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and let cool for 15 minutes. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill into a mixing bowl. Discard all but 1 cup of the potatoes and return the 1 cup to the bowl. Knead in the masa and the 3/4 tsp. salt to form a soft dough, similar to a soft cookie dough.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces, roll into balls and transfer to a plate. Cover with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. One at a time, shape the balls into disks about 3/8 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches wide. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch up the edge of the dough to create an upstanding border, about 1/2 inch high, all the way around the disk, forming the “little boat”. Transfer the boat, flat side down, to the heated griddle and cook just to set the bottom, about 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, continue shaping and then cooking the remaining portions of dough. As you remove each one from the griddle, prick the bottom without penetrating the boat and transfer to a plate. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

In a deep-fry pan or heavy fry pan over medium heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1/2 inch and heat to 175°C. Fry the boats a few at a time until they are a rich golden brown, about 1 minute. Drain them upside down on the paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. When all the boats are done, arrange them on a serving platter.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons of beans, 1/2 Tbs. of the salsa into each one, top with a tuft of the herbs and sprinkle generously with the cheese and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Mexico: One Plate At A Time, by Rick Bayless (Scribner, 2000).

#5 Arepa pockets

AREPAS are corn pockets stuffed with savoury fillings. The Venezuelan AREPA was initially made with fresh corn but today they are usually made using pre-cooked white corn flour.

  • 1 Lb. of Harina P.A.N. (pre-cooked corn flour, other brands like Maseca or Masarepa can be used too)
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 4 cups of warm water (warm from the tap about 57°C)

Filling options:

–    Creamy broccoli spread and lettuce

–    Guacamole, mixed baby greens and Gouda cheese

–    Coarsely mashed black beans, sautéed red onion, slices avocado, juice of 1 lime and chopped fresh coriander

In a large bowl, mix by hand by combining water, salt and oil together first, then slowly add the flour, mixing quickly to avoid lumps.  Alternatively, in an electric mixer, combine all ingredients and mix on medium/low for 2 minutes until oil is completely combined and the mixture is homogeneous.

Keep dough covered with a moist towel and let dough rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, portion dough into a 6 oz. ball and flatten it as if making a burger patty or hockey puck. The AREPA needs to be thick enough that it can be sliced and stuffed like a pocket. An approximate size is about ½” thick and 4½ ” in diameter. The edges of the AREPA need to be sloped down instead of flat, straight edges. Set all AREPA on a sheet tray.

To cook, first seal the AREPA on a flat griddle that has been previously oiled for 2 minutes on each side. To finish, place the AREPA on the hot grill for 5-8 minutes on each side. Alternatively, it can be cooked in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. The AREPA is ready when it sounds hollow if tapped in the middle. It needs to be crunchy on the outside. Using a small, serrated knife, slice through the middle halfway, making sure that the bottom part is not sliced open (fillings will fall out otherwise). Stuff generously with your favourite filling and serve immediately!

Source: Adriana Lopez from Pica Pica

Enjoy!

I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts or recipes of your favourite vegetarian appetisers that you can use as a lunch too.

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