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Turning veggies into appetizers

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Once again this year, I volunteered to help with the planning of a dinner event for 120 persons to raise funds for a much respected local non-profit.  And, once again, my task was to start the evening’s festivities with a selection of appetizers.  This year, however, I was not intimidated by my lack of “appetizer expertise” and instead, regarded my task as an opportunity to experiment with “what might go together” to create surprisingly delicious combinations.  Here are two of the most requested recipes from this year’s event…and yes, I am already imagining the blending of unique ingredients for next year!


Fennel, Pistachio and Roasted Beet Spread

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
¼ teaspoon za’atar seasoning
1 large fennel bulb, stems and fronds removed
1 ½ pounds golden beets
½ cup shelled salt and pepper pistachios
4 – 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Blend the 2 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt, coarse black pepper, crushed dried thyme, and za’atar in a large bowl.  Set aside.
Wash and dry fennel bulb and cut away tough outer layer.  Cut bulb in half vertically and remove inner core.  Cut fennel halves into ½ inch slices.
Wash, dry and peel beets.  Cut the beets into ½ inch thick slices and then cut slices into ½ inch cubes.
Add the sliced fennel and beet cubes to the olive oil/spice mixture and toss to coat.
Arrange the marinated fennel and beets in a single layer on the parchment covered baking sheet.  Roast for 25 minutes or until marinated vegetables are fork tender.  Remove from oven and allow vegetables to cool slightly.
Place the shelled pistachios in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely ground.
Add the fennel, beets and sherry vinegar to the ground pistachios, pulsing to blend. With the food processor running, drizzle in 4 – 5 tablespoons of olive oil and process until mixture reaches desired consistency.
Spoon mixture into bowl and serve at room temperature with corn chips or crackers.


Herbed Carrot and Yogurt Spread
adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2016, page 63


1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
5 medium organic carrots, washed, peeled and sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon vadouvan spice mix
1 ½ cups low-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 – 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vadouvan spice mix
Blend 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, fine sea salt and coarse ground pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the carrot slices and toss to coat with the oil/spice mixture.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the carrots and remaining marinade and cook, stirring occasionally until carrots are fork-tender and beginning to turn brown, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and 1 tablespoon vadouvan spice mix to the sautéed carrots and cook approximately 2 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and allow the sautéed mixture to cool slightly.  Transfer the cooled mixture to a food processor or blender.  Add the Greek yogurt and 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice.  Pulse the carrots, yogurt and lime juice to achieve desired consistency.  Transfer the carrot/yogurt mixture to a bowl.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon vadouvan in a small skillet until mixture sizzles and becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Use a teaspoon to drizzle a portion of the herbed oil over the carrot/yogurt mixture before serving.  (Any remaining herbed oil can be stored in a tightly closed container at room temperature.)
Serve with corn chips or crackers.

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3 Responses to “Turning veggies into appetizers”

  1. Patricia Bailey Says:

    Oh yeah! We can’t wait to make these. They were delicious and now to track down the golden beets! Pat & Dee

  2. Patricia Bailey Says:

    Oh yeah! We thought these appetizers were fabulous. Can’t wait to make them. Pat and Dee

  3. admin Says:

    Glad you enjoyed this appetizer. I found beautiful golden beets at Whole Foods.