7 Small Plates That Will Make a Big Impression With Holiday Guests

Serving small-plate portions at your holiday soirée is a great way to offer your guests a smattering of several elegant dishes. Small plates go above and beyond your standard appetizers. Rather than serving dips, fried finger foods, and simple snacks, you can offer guests sophisticated options, such as Chestnut and Celery Root Soup, Dukkah-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses, and Bourbon Brownie Bites. These 7 recipes prove that delicious flavors do come in small packages.

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1. Bite-Size Greek Salad

Start your guests off with a Bite-Size Greek Salad, a light and refreshing dish that has cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, olives, and a lovely vinaigrette. You can either offer this starter salad in small bowls or serve it on skewers. Take Two Tapas‘ recipe yields 16 servings and only requires 10 minutes of prep time.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 red onion, diced small
  • ½ jar kalamata olives
  • Few leaves of fresh mint, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pepperoncini for garnish

Directions: Peel your cucumbers. Use your melon-baller to scoop out all the cucumber flesh. Mix cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and onion in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the red wine vinegar, mustard, lemon, salt, and pepper. Mix together. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Toss the dressing with the cucumber mixture. Once all coated, toss in the feta, mint, and pepperonicini. Serve in small bowls or on skewers.

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2. Chestnut and Celery Root Soup

Offer partygoers a small cup of Sunset’s Chestnut and Celery Root Soup, which is filled with warm and earthy flavors. If you’d like to make this dish ahead of time, you can cover and refrigerate your puréed soup for up to one day. When you’re ready to serve, reheat it over medium heat; the recipe yields 16 serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup peeled and coarsely chopped celery root
  • 1½ cups bottled or vacuum-packed steamed chestnuts (about 10 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or canned reduced-sodium
  • About 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • About ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
  • Thinly sliced chives, plus chive-blossom petals if you have them, for garnish

Directions: Warm butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 10 minutes. Add celery root, chestnuts, thyme, and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover partially and simmer gently until celery root is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Purée soup in a blender in batches. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons cream. Whisk remaining cream into soft peaks. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve ¼-cup portions, topped with cream and chives.

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3. Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Salad

Martha Stewart delivers a sweet and smoky recipe that will pair perfectly with your other small-plate offerings. To prepare this dish, you’ll create a rich mayonnaise-based filling and stuff it inside small and spicy peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 plum tomato
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry, such as amontillado
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 6 jarred or canned piquillo peppers, drained

Directions: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to pan, and sauté until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Finely chop shrimp, and transfer to a bowl. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add tomato, and cook until skin loosens, about 1½ minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath until cool enough to handle, about 1 minute. Peel tomato, cut into quarters, and remove and discard seeds.

Finely chop tomato. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 minutes. Stir tomato into onion mixture, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; pour in sherry. Return to medium-high heat for 1 minute. Stir tomato mixture into shrimp, and season with salt and pepper. Let cool. Stir in mayonnaise. Stuff each pepper with shrimp salad.

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4. Yukon Gold Scalloped Potato Bites

Thanks to The Food Channel, you can serve your guests a small-plate of skewered, scalloped potatoes. You’ll want to plan ahead with this dish; once your potatoes are baked, you’ll need to chill them overnight before you thread them on small skewers. The recipe yields 18 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2½ pounds (about 5 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced very thin
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • Fresh thyme sprigs, as needed

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over low heat; add minced shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add potatoes, broth, and cream and heat to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the mixture to a buttered 8-inch square baking dish; top with 1 cup shredded cheese.

Top with remaining potatoes and shredded cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cover and chill overnight. Cut chilled casserole into 36 (1¼-inch square) pieces; thread on small bamboo skewers. Arrange in small baking dish. Heat in preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until potatoes are warm and cheese is bubbly; carefully transfer to serving plate and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, if desired.

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5. Dukkah-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses

Entice your guests’ tastebuds by serving Bon Appétit’s Dukkah-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses. The elegant entrée is filled with invigorating spices, pistachios, sesame seeds, honey, and molasses, creating a marvelous mini-meal that will be a hit with your holiday guests. The recipe yields 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted natural pistachios, shelled
  • 2½ tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 16 small lamb rib chops, well trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions: Place first 6 ingredients in food processor. Using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer dukkah to shallow bowl; set aside. Whisk pomegranate molasses and honey in small bowl; set aside. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add half of lamb chops to pan. Cook to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer lamb chops to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining chops. Holding each chop by bone end, dip both sides of meat in dukkah to coat and transfer to platter. Drizzle honey mixture over chops and serve.

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6. Steak Kabobs with Caramelized Onion Relish

Partygoers will relish these small steak skewers, which are coated with a sweet caramelized onion relish. The recipe from “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” yields 12 servings.

Ingredients:

Kabobs:

  • 1½ pounds beef top sirloin steak boneless or ranch steaks, cut 1-inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon garlic-pepper seasoning
  • Fresh basil leaves, optional

Caramelized Onion Relish:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

Directions: To prepare kabobs, preheat broiler. Soak 12 6-inch bamboo skewers in water 10 minutes; drain. To prepare relish, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onions; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until liquid evaporates and onion mixture browns and thickens, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Cut beef steak into 1¼ inch pieces. Season meat with seasoning blend. Thread 3 beef pieces onto each skewer, leaving small spaces between pieces. Place kabobs on rack of broiler pan so surface of beef is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 7 to 11 minutes, turning once. Serve kabobs with relish. Garnish with basil leaves, as desired.

Source: iStock

7. Bourbon Brownie Bites with Dulce de Leche

Betty Crocker delivers a dessert that your guests will remember long after the party has ended. Filled with gooey chocolate and caramel flavors, we guarantee these Bourbon Brownie Bites with Dulce de Leche will go quickly! The recipe yields 36 servings.

Ingredients:

Brownie:

  • 1 box triple chunk brownie mix
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 egg

Dulce de Leche:

  • 1 can (13.4 ounces) dulce de leche (caramelized sweetened condensed milk)
  • Coarse (kosher or sea) salt

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place mini paper baking cup in each of the 36 mini muffin cups. In medium bowl, stir brownie ingredients until well-blended. Fill muffin cups about three-fourths full with batter. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in edge of brownie bite comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Top each brownie with dollop of dulce de leche; sprinkle with salt.

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