Having friends over? Set out some simple and delicious appetizers and you’re sure to please a crowd quickly. Serving appetizers for dinner is not a new concept, but it’s one that we sometimes forget about as an option. It’s an easy way to offer a variety of dishes and encourage your visitors to relax and mingle. It also allows the chef more time with your guests and less time fussing in the kitchen. Try to have a mix of both warm and cold dishes and choose complimentary flavors so they do not compete with each other. The cold dishes can be prepared earlier in the day to help you save time. Pictured here are some of my favorites from the Mediterranean family of flavors:
A simple platter of fruits, cheeses, nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and assorted crackers.
Tagliata di manzo, a steak (in this case a rib-eye) grilled to perfection – sliced and served with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Ideally you would sprinkle arugula over top as well, however, I did not have any at the time.
Bruschetta served with freshly grilled baguette bread.
Tagliata di manzo
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Good quality Parmesan cheese wedge
Balsamic glaze (you can get this at Trader Joes or in the vinegar isle)
Washed pieces of arugula (lettuce optional)
This Southern Italian classic translates simply to slices of beef, but it is so much more than that! You can use any good cut of steak for this, but our favorite go-to steak is always a classic rib-eye or porterhouse cut. Season your steak simply with only a small amount of sea-salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside. Prepare your grill. Thinly slice pieces of Parmesan cheese and tear up medium sized pieces of arugula lettuce. Place your steak on the hot grill. Once your steak is grilled to perfection (medium rare) and rested for a few minutes, thinly slice the beef and arrange on a platter. Top the beef with the cheese and arugula. Drizzle the balsamic glaze lightly around the platter and over the steak. Serve immediately.
4 or 5 medium sized fresh tomatoes
Small garlic clove (crushed)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh slices of baguette bread
Bruschetta is like a mild Italian salsa served with toast. Always use the freshest tomatoes and only fresh Italian basil for the best results. Pictured here, I used very ripe hot-house tomatoes. You can use roma tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes for a beautiful mix of color and complexity.
Roughly chop your tomatoes to bite sized pieces and place into a bowl. I like them a little on the larger size for a more rustic appeal. Tear a handful of fresh basil into pieces with your hands and place into the bowl. Add crushed garlic and approximately a table spoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss all ingredients together. Slice your bread (not too thin). Brush both sides of each piece of bread with a little extra virgin olive oil. Take your bread out to the grill and toast on medium-high heat. Turn each piece once. This goes very quickly. By the time you’ve laid out all the pieces of bread, it will be time to turn the first piece and you’re done. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately. Buon appetito!