7 Savory Dishes That Will be the Life of Your Holiday Parties

Holiday parties typically offer an array of sweet foods, including cookie platters, desserts, and dishes that have been candied, honeyed, or glazed. While savory dishes can sometimes fall to the wayside, they shouldn’t be ignored — your tastebuds will welcome the break from sugar-filled foods. Creamy dips, elegant sandwiches, and piquant pastries are just a few of the delectable dishes you can prepare for your next holiday party. Sugary sweet treats will be no match for these seven savory recipes.

Source: iStock

1. Gougères

Party guests won’t be able to get enough of The Kitchn’s Gougères. You can even make these straightforward, easy-to-prepare pastries prior to the party; simply freeze your gougères unbaked directly on a baking sheet until you’re ready to bake them. The recipe yields about 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) grated cheese, like gruyère or cheddar

Directions: Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the water, butter, salt, and mustard in a 2- to 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Once all the butter has melted, remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously until the mixture comes together and resembles mashed potatoes. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir for 3 to 5 minutes to dry out the dough. The dough is ready when it glistens and is thick enough to hold a spoon upright. Some starch buildup on the bottom of the pan is normal.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough on a medium-low speed for one minute until it stops steaming and is just warm to the touch. Continue beating and add the egg in four additions. Wait for each addition to be absorbed and for the dough to smooth out before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed between additions. In the end, the dough should come together in a very smooth, creamy batter. Beat in the cheese. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto sheet pans lined with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Space them at least an inch apart. Bake the gougères for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking. The finished gougères will be puffed, deep golden-brown, and dry to the touch. They will also feel light and hollow when picked up. Transfer the sheet pan to a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and re-crisped in a warm oven before serving or frozen for up to three months.

Source: iStock

2. Savory Goat Cheese Pesto Dip

Have you been tasked with bringing a dip to one of your holiday parties? If so, prepare The Fresh Market’s Savory Goat Cheese Pesto Dip, which is filled with creamy cheese, pine nuts, basil, and tomato pesto. If you’d like to make something to serve alongside your dip, we recommend whipping up Country Living’s Savory Crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup marscapone cheese
  • 1 package sundried tomato pesto
  • 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nut
  • 1 package French rounds

Directions: Combine cheeses, pesto, and basil in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the top with toasted pine nuts, if desired. Serve on French rounds or the cracker of your choosing.

Source: iStock

3. Mini Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Take a break from sweets and treats, and instead please your palate with Tablespoon’s Mini Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups, which are bursting with ricotta cheese, zesty seasonings, and spinach. The recipe yields 32 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 8 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper, if desired

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, and Italian seasonings. Add salt and pepper if desired. Pat noodles dry with a paper towel and lay them on parchment or wax paper. Cut each noodle in half widthwise. Fill each noodle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture, leaving an inch empty on one side of the noodle. Start rolling each noodle up, ending on the side that has one inch empty. This is so that the filling doesn’t spill out the end.

Slice each noodle in half with a sharp knife and place roll seam side down in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure you have a dish that has a 1- to 2-inch edge so you can cover it with foil later and not mess up the rolls. If you like your pasta with crispy edges, don’t cover it. Place 1 teaspoon of pizza sauce on top of each roll and top each with a teaspoon of mozzarella. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted inside. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

Source: iStock

4. Sun-Dried Tomato and Pepperoni Rugelach

Nancy Baggett’s recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato and Pepperoni Rugelach via The Washington Post will add a savory cookie option to a sugary-sweet cookie platter. If you’d like to make this dish ahead of time, you can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours and the filling for up to 3 days. Additionally, the rugelach can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. The recipe yields 32 pieces.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature, cut into chunks
  • Scant 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cream cheese, at a cool temperature, cut into chunks
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt or onion salt
  • 1 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons or more as needed
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 3 tablespoons for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Filling:

  • ½ cup drained, chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup finely diced pepperoni
  • ¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton) or sweet paprika
  • Water (optional)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions: To make the dough, combine the butter, cream cheese, oregano, baking soda, and garlic salt or onion salt in a food processor; pulse until well blended. Sprinkle in 1 cup of the flour and ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; pulse until evenly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over a big piece of wax paper. Turn the dough out onto that surface, then sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of flour over the dough. Knead just until smooth, working in a bit more flour as needed if the dough seems too soft/sticky. Divide the dough in half.

Shape each half into a flat disk. Working with one disk at a time, place them between sheets of parchment paper and roll out to a 10-inch round. Transfer to a baking sheet, smoothing out any wrinkles in the parchment; refrigerate for at least 25 minutes, until firm. Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni and paprika in a food processor until very smooth. Add a little water if the mixture seems stiff. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pulse until evenly distributed; add water in teaspoon increments if the mixture seems dry. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Peel off the top piece of parchment from one of the refrigerated dough rounds, then pat the paper back into place; leave that round in the refrigerator. Transfer the other chilled dough round to the countertop. Peel off its top parchment. Invert the round on the countertop; peel off and discard the second piece of parchment. Use an offset spatula to spread half of the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch margin all around. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the round into quarters, then cut each quarter into 4 equal wedges.

Working from wide edge, roll each wedge of dough tightly toward the narrow end to form rugelach. Arrange them on the baking sheets, spacing the rugelach 1½ inches apart. Whisk together the egg and tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the top of each rugelach with the mixture. Sprinkle each one with some of the remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake one sheet at a time for 19 to 24 minutes or until the rugelach are well-browned; do not underbake. Let them cool for 3 minutes, then transfer the rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining 10-inch round, filling, egg wash and cheese.

Source: iStock

5. Mini Croque-Monsieur

Martha Stewart’s fancy sandwiches will feed a crowd and add an elegant touch to your seasonal get together. The recipe yields 20 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf white Pullman bread (1 pound 2 ounces), bottom trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1½ ounces)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 thin slices good-quality ham (5 ounces)
  • 12 large slices gruyère cheese (12 ounces)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting from the bottom of the loaf, slice bread horizontally into six ½-inch-thick rectangles; discard rounded top. Toast each bread slice in a toaster until pale gold. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Let bechamel cool completely. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between 2 bowls. Spread half the bechamel from 1 bowl on 1 slice of bread.

Top with 2 slices ham and 3 slices gruyère. Top with 1 slice of bread, then spread remaining bechamel from bowl over top. Set sandwich aside. Repeat layering with ham and gruyère, and top with 1 slice of bread. Repeat with remaining bowl of bechamel, bread slices, ham, and gruyère. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Trim crusts from sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half lengthwise, then crosswise 5 times to form 10 rectangles from each. Skewer each sandwich. Transfer to a baking sheet and warm in oven until cheese melts, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: iStock

6. Crock Pot Cheesy Spinach Casserole

Food.com’s Cheesy Spinach Casserole is a rich and creamy dish that will work wonderfully for holiday parties. The recipe yields 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16-ounce) bags frozen leaf spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed, can use regular
  • 1½ cups low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup butter, cut up
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to taste

Directions: Spray your crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Add all ingredients to crock pot; mix well. Cover and cook on low for about 4-6 hours, or 1 hour on high, then about 2 hours on low. Stir halfway through cooking time. Stir again before serving.

Source: iStock

7. Mini Beef Wellingtons

This flaky finger food is quintessential party fare. Food Network’s recipe calls for beef tenderloin, mushrooms, shallot, and puff pastry, creating an easy-to-prepare dish that’s filled with fabulous flavors. It yields 24 pieces.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 24 (1-inch) cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Directions: Preheat to the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season all sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the beef on 2 sides only until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes total; do not overcook. Transfer to a plate to cool. Add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown and release liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and continue cooking until mushroom mixture dries out, is golden brown and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. On a work surface, roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Put teaspoon-sized mounds of mushroom mixture on the pastry, evenly spacing them in 4 rows of 3. Top the mushroom mound with a piece of beef, seared side up. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into even squares around the meat and mushrooms. Working 1 at a time, pull 2 opposite sides of pastry up over each beef piece.

Finally, fold the ends over the top to make a packet. Invert and arrange the packets seam side down on the baking sheet and press them lightly to seal the pastry. Repeat with the remaining beef, mushrooms, and pastry. Bake the Wellingtons until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven to a serving platter and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: