6 Meatless Appetizers Pleasing Every Palette for the Holidays
As holiday party season enters full swing, it’s important to have a few dishes in mind to suit every potential guest’s palette. One can never go wrong having vegetarian options on the menu, as a tasty meatless selection will prove to be a hit even among carnivores (think spinach puffs, bruschetta, cheese and onion dips, and deviled eggs).
We’ve gathered 6 savory and sensational vegetarian appetizer recipes here for your reference. They’re sure to satisfy any party guest!
1. Sweet Potato Crostini With Toasted Walnuts And Tahini
Food Fitness Fresh Air’s Sweet Potato Crostini With Toasted Walnuts and Tahini are tasty, bite-sized party treats that everyone will love. The dish even manages to pack in some nutritional benefits: As Livestrong points out, sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while black eyed peas are a source of both fiber and protein.
Toasted walnuts add a truly dazzling garnish to this starter. In order to toast your walnuts, chop them roughly, then warm on a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the edges are browned and the walnuts become fragrant. Sprinkle onto your crostini, and voila! Hearty, ready-to-serve goodness!
- 1 medium sweet potato, baked
- ½ cup black eyed peas
- ¼ cup sesame tahini, plus more to drizzle
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼-½ teaspoon cayenne, per your heat preference
- Salt, to taste
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
- Honey, to drizzle
- Lemon wedge, to squeeze
- 1 multigrain baguette, sliced into½-inch thick ovals
Directions: In a food processor, combine sweet potato, black eyed peas, tahini, chili powder, nutmeg, cayenne, and salt. Puree until smooth. Turn on broiler in oven. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Very lightly drizzle with olive oil or melted butter. Broil until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.
Remove from oven, and begin to spoon sweet potato dip on top. Sprinkle toasted walnuts on top. Then, drizzle with honey and tahini, and finish with a squeeze of lemon. Serve.
2. Sweet and Sour Tempeh Meatballs
Transform a classic appetizer into an equally-yummy vegetarian offering with Oh My Veggies’ recipe for Sweet and Sour Tempeh Meatballs. Tempeh is a fermented soybean product with a firm texture, working as an excellent meat-free base for these tangy bites. Simply combine the tempeh with breadcrumbs and light seasonings, then bake to a beautiful golden-brown. You’ll then smother the bites bites in a tangy, spicy pineapple sweet and sour sauce, serve, and enjoy!
Oh My Veggies notes that if you start cooking your sauce about 5 minutes after you put the meatballs in the oven, then you should be able to drop the meatballs into the sauce right as they finish baking.
For the tempeh meatballs:
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral-flavored vegetable oil), divided
- 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, broken into 1-inch chunks
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce:
- 1 cup diced fresh or drained canned pineapple
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions: Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet or large cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil.
Place the onion and garlic into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the tempeh and pulse a few more times until finely chopped. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, panko, milk, soy sauce, and pepper. Pulse until mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Roll the mixture into 20 balls about 1½ inches in diameter. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet or skillet and bake, turning twice while they bake, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Make the sauce: Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pineapple, broth, cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, soy sauce, and Sriracha and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to maintain the simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Combine the water and cornstarch to a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and stir just until combined. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce becomes thick and coats the meatballs, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and spear with decorative toothpicks for serving.
3. Endive With Pear and Blue Cheese
Endive is a bitter, crunchy vegetable with a firm texture, making it an ideal vehicle for holding dips and additional ingredients in place. In Vanilla and Bean’s dish, the veggie serves as a cradle for piquant blue cheese, pear, and crunchy walnuts. The combination is simple, but the resulting “endive boat” presentation will leave a lasting impression on your guests. These Endives With Pear and Blue Cheese even offer nutritional benefits, with endive being low in calories, while high in both fiber and potassium. The recipe takes 30 minutes to make and yields 20 pieces.
- 2 heads of endive ends trimmed and leaves separated
- ⅛ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons blue cheese, small crumbles or chopped
- ¾ cup pear, small dice (about 1 pear)
- 2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, high quality
- 2 fresh thyme stems, leaves removed
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place walnuts on a sheet pan in a single layer, then toast for 8-10 minutes. They should smell fragrant. Remove from oven and pan by placing the walnuts on a cutting board or on a plate. Set aside to cool.
Trim the end of the each endive and separate the leaves. Use the largest leaves for the appetizer and save the smallest ones for your next salad. Set aside. Add the chopped blue cheese and pear to a small bowl and mix gently, then set aside. Chop the walnuts to a fine chop.
On each endive leaf, spoon about 1½ teaspoons of the pear and cheese mixture on the blunt end of the leaf. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of finely chopped walnuts over the pear and cheese mixture on each leaf, then drizzle ⅛ teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over the walnuts on each piece of endive. Distribute fresh thyme leaves evenly over the endive leaves.
4. Kabocha-Havarti Pockets
In this recipe, I Will Not Eat Oysters combines the mild flavor of kabocha — a winter squash — with creamy Havarti cheese in these savory and sophisticated Kabocha-Havarti Pockets. The central ingredients are seasoned with an elegant blend of thyme, tarragon vinegar, and other light flavors, all culminating in a truly unforgettable holiday dish. The recipe yields 12 large, or 24 miniature, toasted pockets (we’d recommend the miniature size for a large party).
- 1 medium kabocha squash, quartered and seeds/pulp removed
- olive oil
- 4 shallots, finely sliced
- ½ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed off of stems
- Pinch of salt
- 1½ teaspoons tarragon vinegar, or champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed in fridge
- ½ pound sliced Havarti cheese
- 1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk or water
- Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, garnish
- thyme leaves, garnish
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place the squash quarters on it with the skin side down. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the squash. Roast for 1½ hours. It will be extremely soft. Let cool to room temp before working with it.
Heat the olive oil and the butter over medium-low heat in a sauté pan. Add the shallots, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes tossing occasionally until the shallots are softened and the thyme is fragrant.
Scoop out the kabocha flesh into a large bowl and discard the skins. Transfer the shallot mixture into the bowl and add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix together and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Unroll one of the puff pastry sheets. Cut the sheet into 6 squares for the large pockets or 12 for the mini pockets. Place pieces of the Havarti onto the squares leaving about ⅓-inch border around the edge of the puff pastry. Spoon about 1-1½ tablespoons of squash mixture into the middle of each square (if making miniatures, use about 2 teaspoons of filling for each).
Brush the egg wash all around the edge of the puff pastry, fold them in half, and pinch closed. Brush the tops and the sides with the egg wash, then sprinkle with thyme leaves and Maldon salt. Transfer them to the baking sheet. Do the same with the second sheet of puff pastry.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake on the parchment lined baking sheets until golden brown and puffy. Between 18-20 minutes.
5. White Cheddar and Spinach French Bread
Comfort food makes brisk winter weather all the more bearable, and that’s why your family and friends will go crazy for Krafted Koch’s White Cheddar and Spinach Bread this holiday season. Crusty French bread is topped with sautéed baby spinach, garlic, and green onions, all draped in a velvety, gooey cream cheese and Parmesan sauce. Top it all off with shredded cheddar, bake until bubbly and golden-brown, and enjoy! This recipe takes 25 minutes and yields 4 servings (cut into smaller slices for smaller, appetizer-sized servings).
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup green onions chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 5 cups baby spinach
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan, grated
- ½ loaf French bread
- 4 ounces extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large sauté pan melt the butter and add the garlic, green onions, spinach and salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Add the cream cheese to the pan and heat just until melted then add the Parmesan, stirring just until it is well incorporated.
Slice your loaf of French bread in half lengthwise and place on a lined sheet, cut sides up. Spoon the spinach mixture over both of the loaves and top with the shredded cheddar. Bake for 15 minutes, then serve immediately.
6. Cranberry Baked Brie Puff Pastry Bites
These Cranberry Baked Brie Puff Pastry Bites offer a burst of creamy, gooey, and tart flavors all at once. Buttery puff pastry is wrapped around tangy homemade cranberry filling, which mingles with tantalizingly with Brie cheese in a combination everyone will love. Best of all, this holiday appetizer is a cinch to make ahead of time — you can assemble the pastry bites and freeze them, baked or unbaked, weeks before your party! The bites will reheat beautifully when party time rolls around. Even if you’re stuck making them on the day of the party, they take just an hour to complete. This recipe from The Law Student’s Wife yields 48 pastry bites.
For the cranberry filling
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the puff pastry bites:
- 2 (10-by-10) sheets puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 4 ounces Brie cheese, cold
Directions: Prepare the cranberry sauce: Combine the cranberries, orange juice, water, honey, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, until the cranberries break down and thicken. Let cool.
Prepare pastry bites: Unfold the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, gently roll the pastry so that it is an even 11-inch square. With a 1½-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the pastry (48 rounds total).
Beat the egg in a small bowl, then lightly brush each pastry. Top 12 of the pastry rounds with ¼ teaspoon cranberry sauce and one small piece of Brie cheese, rind included.
Carefully place the remaining pastry rounds on top of the Brie and cranberry, brushed egg side down. Pinch the ends closed, then gently crimp the edges with a fork to secure. Prick each pastry with a fork to allow the air to escape. Repeat with second pastry sheet.
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pastry on the prepared sheet and brush lightly with egg. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.