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Sep 15, 2006 06:26 PM

Need appetizer for Italian dinner I am making - but no cheese, bread, etc.

I'm making a seafood pasta and garlic bread and salad for a dinner I'm having, and need an appetizer. But, I've got a friend coming who doesn't eat cheese or beef or chicken, plus half the group dislikes olives.

I don't want to serve anything that requires bread, since we're doing a carb heavy dinner.

I've thought of marinated sardines but that might be too much for some of the pickier eaters.

Any ideas?


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  1. Can you find fresh gnocchi at a local Italian deli? Gnocchi is delicious when it's cooked and then browned in butter with some herbs. They might not have thought about eating it that way, and it's delish. Maybe with a non-cheese pesto sauce. Just a few gnocchi go a long way.

    You could also try to find bouquerones, but like you said, some folks eschew anchovies and sardines.

    1. Something "en brodo" (in broth) would be nice. Go to and type en brodo in their recipe search engine. You'll get (mostly) Mario Batalli versions. Generally, depending on what's IN the brodo, it's a fairly light but very satisfying dish that makes a great appetizer.

      1. Grilled Figs on Rosemary Skewers comes to mind for some reason...


        1. Does it have to be Italian? What about baba ganoush or houmous with crudite? I suppose that's too pre-dinner...
          Crab cakes with mango salsa?
          Some eggplant caponata thing?

          1. How about a simple platter of prosciutto and a few different salumi? You said no cheese, beef or chicken but not pork.

            I love MuppetGrrl's gnocchi idea, but technically that would make two pasta courses (gnocchi counts as a pasta in the Italian progression) and it may be too much starch for your group as well. I'd also avoid any seafood appetizer since you are having a seafood pasta.

            Another idea would be some kind of soup, either hot or cold depending on the weather and what you will be making it with. Cold gazpacho or a cucumber yogurt soup are more summery, or you could do a warm butternut squash/sage soup on a cooler evening.

            1 Reply
            1. re: farmersdaughter

              An antipasti platter lets people choose what they want. Fill it with roasted vegetables, various salumi, some cheese (there must be some people who like it), artichoke hearts etc. You can buy everything ready to eat at any good Italian deli.