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Easy Vegetarian Appetizer(s)

Hi everyone. I do a fair amount of cooking, and, for the life of me, don't have a go-to appetizer. Does anyone have something up his/her sleeve? It needs to be completely meat/poultry/seafood free. We eat dairy and eggs. We dislike eggplant and mushrooms.

Thank you so much!

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    1. re: andytee

      They don't like eggplant...

      Hummus or another bean type dip is a good appetizer. Serve with homemade crackers or pita chips or cut up veggies. It keeps in the fridge, so you can pull it out when you need it..

      1. re: cheesecake17

        Yeah, but I know plenty of people who say they don't like eggplant but do like baba ghanoush.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          eggplant is kind of like tofu that it takes on a lot of different tastes depending on how it's cooked and with what. YOu should try it in unique ways, like mini "lasagna" bites.

          1. re: Jacey

            We've given it numerous tries, but just don't dig it. I wish we did. ;)

      2. deviled eggs
        pimento cheese in celery sticks
        nasturium leaves with cream cheese and basil
        nasturium blooms stuffed with gucamole

        1. Endive leaves sprinkled with chunks of soft goat cheese, clementine or mandarin orange segments, and drizzled with a blend of honey and balsamic vinegar. Delicious, and fairly easy. Add toasted walnuts to kick it up a notch.

          4 Replies
            1. re: debbiel

              Thanks! It tastes way more difficult than it is. My second-favorite variation is endive with pear chunks and mild blue cheese. I drizzled this with the same honey-balasamic, but I bet it would be good with a honey-mustard vinaigrette, too.

            2. re: ChristinaMason

              I agree! I love to use Belgian endives to stuff, althogh I do it with seafood....

              Have you tried felafel? Not the frozen variety, but there's a little mix, as in add water and mix, that isn't half bad with tahini to dip. If you have middle eastern markets available. There are pot stickers and spring rolls in Korean market freezers... AND wontons can be made ahead, frozen on a sheet pan then bagged to fry in a jiffy for unexpected company, dropped into chicken stock with soy sauce when you feel under the weather.

              1. re: lil magill

                Making Falafel from scratch rather than via powdered mix is not that hard and so worth it.

            3. A few more ideas:

              -veggie spring/summer rolls or dumplings
              -baked brie (delicious, if a little dated, with some raspberry jam or lingonberry compote slathered in the middle)
              -arancini (fried leftover risotto balls) with spicy marinara
              -rustic wheat crackers served with gouda and fig jam, or manchego and membrillo (quince paste), or cheddar and honey mustard. killer.
              -mini quiche
              -maybe some kind of veggie kebab with peanut dipping sauce? (peppers, zucchini, grape tomatoes, par-cooked sweet potatoes)
              -sweet potato oven fries
              -tomatoes stuffed with feta and rice
              -oven-warmed spiced olives
              -veggie tempura
              -zucchini fritters
              -stuffed potato skins
              -some kind of grilled or baked tofu skewers? my friend makes these with a lemongrass sauce he swears by.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChristinaMason

                Pakoras -- deep fried veggies in an Indian batter. Gits brand in Indian markets. Samosas are good too! Indian market freezer section. Spanikopita. Stuffed grape leaves. Go international cookbook searching.

              2. I love this Pea Dip (I add more garlic and less mint):


                And this Olive and Artichoke Tapenade (I add garlic and extra olives):


                1. Found this on a Pep Farm box years ago. It's definitely T&T, and I've given the recipe to lots of friends.

                  Spinach Puffs

                  1 box Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells (the large, not the mini)
                  10-oz box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
                  1 box Knorr leek soup mix
                  8 oz sour cream

                  Cut the shells into 4ths. Stretch each piece to fit in a mini muffin cup. They won't be perfect; sort of tri-cornered. Mix soup and sour cream. Let it sit for 1/2 to 1 hour to let the soup mix hydrate. Mix in spinach. Divide among the 24 muffin cups.
                  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

                  1. This pesto terrine is far better than its parts:


                    I like variations on bruschetta--especially if you have home made bread. Fig and mascarpone, grilled asparagus and parmigiano cheese, artichoke heart and goat cheese, etc. Best is that you can be creative with what's seasonal. And, of course you can't beat the traditional. Or, sliced tomatoes, marinated, with fresh mozzarella and basil.

                    1. Shallot & cherry confit. An old Martha Stewart recipe. Can be made up to a week ahead and kept in fridge. Serve at room temp with a wedge of Manchego cheese and a sliced baguette.

                      SHALLOT-CHERRY CONFIT

                      Makes 1 ½ cups

                      2 tbsp. unsalted butter
                      8 oz. shallots, trimmed and quartered
                      1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
                      ½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
                      3 sprigs fresh thyme
                      3 tbsp. sugar
                      ¼ cup sherry vinegar
                      Coarse salt and freshly ground

                      1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots, onion, cherries and thyme. Cover, and cook until shallots and onion are soft and beginning to caramelize, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in sugar. Continue to cook, covered, until shallots and onion are caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.

                      2. Add vinegar and ¼ cup warm water. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and mixture is deep brown, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Confit can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

                      1. I often make spanakopita triangles. I don't have a recipe written down, but use your favorite spinach/feta filling recipe if you have one, make self-contained phyllo triangles instead of layering phyllo sheets and filling. They're always a hit.

                        I like having a platter of bruschetta and/or good crackers with a variety of accompaniments--roasted or grilled veggiesl, spreads (bean dips, preserves, tapenade, a red pepper/feta spread my husband makes frequently that is wonderful), cheese...change it based on the season.

                        A friend served steamed wontons as appetizers at a get together several weeks ago. I was in heaven.

                        1 Reply
                        1. -Figs or Dates stuffed with Blue Cheese, Walnuts or Hazelnuts and drizzled with a reduced balsamic
                          -Mini frittatas - can be frozen and reheated too
                          -I love some antipasti like sliced hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes with some sort of drizzle, tho i prefer plain myself
                          -Scallion pancakes with a Ginger Dipping Sauce
                          -Mini veggie quesadillas (with a light cheese)
                          -Seared Tofu with Toasted Beluga Lentils with an Orange Reduction and Parsley Oil drizzle
                          -Polenta Squares (from night before) topped with a dollop of ricotta and marinara or sundried tomatoes, basil, and a sprinkle of parmesan then broiled til gooey
                          -Phyllo Triangles filled with some cooked onions, spinach, feta, ricotta, parsley, dash of nutmeg, chives... bake til golden

                          1. Thanks, everybody. You all have some great ideas!

                            1. Few things are better than an ad hoc cheese dip, made with whatever cheeses you have around, food processorized with mayonnaise, hot sauce, garlic and perhaps the toasted nuts of your choice. It's an especially good way to use up the odd pieces of blocks you have in the fridge.

                              I also often make a thick puree -- paté-like, actually -- from pecans or walnuts, onions, garlic and CANNED peas, if you can believe it. Sauté the onions and garlic (adding a little sherry or Madeira if you wish), then process with the drained peas, adding nuts till you reach a consistency you like. It needs no herbs or spices. This dish makes people FREAK OUT for some reason. I can eat it till I don't want any dinner!

                              My only problem with it is that I have an unpredictable on-again-off-again nut allergy that makes it painful occasionally, especially if I use walnuts.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                Sound so good, but I'm right there with you WRT the nuts.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  I should have asked earlier, but did you want something that took more time to cook, a little more impressive, or something quick to put together? I assumed something quick to put together because that's how my life has been lately but I do have some go-to ones that are more time consuming, require cooking and nicer.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    My go-to appetizer spread is my own version of a muhamara (spelling?) dip made with roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts or pine nuts, some bread crumbs, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, chili powder, pomegranate syrup (if you have it around, otherwise just some sugar will work), salt, pepper... all thrown in the food processor. Served with toasted pita triangles.

                                    1. re: anakalia

                                      That sounds really good, anakalia. I have pomegranate molasses, will that work?

                                    2. re: chowser

                                      Cooking is just fine. I just can't pull off anything difficult.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Roasted red pepper dip is good and I serve it in a bowl w/ half the red pepper dip and half hummus (and/or toum). I char the red peppers over high heat w/ tongs and remove the peel. Simple and all done ahead of time. I serve w/ vegetables or some kind of bread.


                                        Focaccia with different toppings is a go-to that isn't hard to make but more time consuming. You can use puff pastry from Trader Joe's, instead. Also, free form tarts, using puff pastry (I like TJ's but find it a little on the sweet side. It's much cheaper than Dufours from WF). Individual ones, or make a big one and cut--oven roasted tomatoes w/ pamiggiana, goat cheese and roasted onions, etc. As long as you have a good base, you can be creative, see what's available.

                                        Gougeres, grissini, crostinis (garlic butter cheese combination, generally) as bready items go have been popular when I've made them.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          I like using Pepperidge Farms brand and don't find it sweet at all. Have never tried TJ's but good to know.

                                          My favorite tart is a leek & gruyere. Delicious, relatively simple and freezes well. Can be served warm or at room temp. I always get requests for the recipe.

                                          1. re: Phurstluv

                                            I don't like Pepperidge Farm's brand. There's something artificial tasting about it to me. Leek and gruyere is a great combination on a tart.

                                          2. re: chowser

                                            I did a focaccia for a party using TJ's pizza dough as a base... Topped with grape halves, blue cheese, kosher salt and pepper, then baked and drizzled with honey.