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Make Ahead Vegetarian Appetizer

All of my classmates in one of my graduate classes found out that cooking is my passion, so naturally, I was nominated to bring snacks to class. Normally, my specialties are main dishes, so I'm a little stumped on a snack to bring. It has to be cold/room temp because I work before I go to class, so I'll have to make it the night before and can only refrigerate it while at work.

Also, I am a vegetarian, so I don't want to cook any meat (cheese is fine though), and I am a grad student cooking for 20 other people, so it has to be somewhat inexpensive (yes, I would love to make goat cheese and walnut stuffed figs and marinated bocconcini with tomatoes skewers, but I can't afford all that right now).

So, does anyone have any make ahead, vegetarian, inexpensive crowd pleasing appetizers?

(As I put it all together, it sounds like a tall order from my fellow Chow Hounders, but I have faith in you).

Thank you for the help!!

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  1. I've had good luck with these - I make cubes or rectangles, and skewer them on a nice little bamboo cocktail pick with a grape tomato (and maybe a basil leaf) to garnish and make it cute. http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/baked-t...

    1. Roasted veggies including red and yellow peppers-with a balsamic reduction-some marinated mushrooms and artichokes-simple and with a good balsamic-very tasty! I do this all the time and also include some braised cippolini or pearl onions that are carmelized a bit before serving. A spoon drizzle of the balsamic reduction always wows em!

      You could do an israeli cous cous salad. Stuffed grape leaves. Pureed bean dip.

      1. Hummus
        Cannelini bean spread
        Roasted red peppers
        falafel
        pita

        2 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Mini-quiches, deviled eggs, frittata or torta (the Spanish potato onion omelette, often served at room temperature), mini-knishes (potato or kasha or sauerkraut filling), piroshki (mushroom/or fried chooped tempheh with fried onions and hard-boiled egg makes a nice simulacrum of the traditional meat filling), kuleibiaka (IRussian pie--can be filled with sauteed onions and cabbage), vegetarian stuffed cabbage rolls, stuffed mushrooms, spinach and feta turnovers (use filo dough), veggies a la greque

          all of the above can be managed with hands or toothpicks and napkins

          if you want to go the plate route, a realm of salads opens up to you

          1. re: femmevox

            Those are some great ideas! And yes, I was hoping to do some kind of finger food to avoid utensils. I've never even thought of tempheh for piroshki filling but that sounds delicious!

        2. leek & gruyere tart or tartlettes
          shallot cherry confit with cheese and baguette

          1. Does everyone take turns bringing in snacks, or is this a one-time thing? If it's not something that happens regularly, I don't think there's any harm in asking your classmates to make a donation toward ingredients. Even $2 apiece would give you a great budget. I also don't think it's unreasonable to ask a classmate (or maybe the professor) to bring in a pack of plates or bowls if you'd like to make something that would require them. If you're being generous with your time, you shouldn't be forced to foot the bill, too, especially since you were volunteered.

            Since I'm guessing it's probably one of those marathon three-hour evening classes, something with protein would be a good choice. I sometimes like to top mini pitas with some hummus and chopped veggies. You could even do a sort of build-your-own bar--a bowl of hummus and some cucumber slices, shredded carrots, sliced peppers would all be travel-friendly, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: writergeek313

              +1 on having other people pony up a couple of bucks. Why should the work and cost all be on you?

              1. re: escondido123

                One more thought I had was mini smobrod--open-faced Scandinavian style sandwiches. Here's a link to an article with some pictures:

                http://www.boston.com/news/globe/maga...

                You need a close-grained dark bread that slices thinly. Now, while most of these are traditionally made with meat and fish toppings, I think they'd readily adapt to veggie ones--a smear of goat cheese, hard-boiled egg or omelette slice, a bit of veggie pate or humus. The neat thing is that you then decorate them as you like.

                If you enjoy that kind of activity at the juncture of cooking/decorating, you wind up with a platter that wasn't hard, didn't cost much to make, and looks fabulous.

            2. These are some fantastic ideas. I love the kind of "build your own", and I do make a mean hummus. It's not until next Tuesday, but I will check in and let everyone know how it went.

              Also, I love the idea of having people kick in, but it is something where others will bring in food other weeks. I was just nominated to go first, and I wanted to set a precedent and provide something more than a nasty, fat filled bag of chips. Plus, they all know I love cooking, so I need to not let them down. I just always find myself at a loss when trying to come up with an ap that I can make ahead that doesn't require utensils or a lot of money.

              I have some great ideas here. I really appreciate the suggestions!

              10 Replies
              1. re: Veggie Liv

                Coming late to this party and you already have fantastic suggestions but I'll throw in one more: cheesecake17's spinach jibin, cut into small pieces. Recipe here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594659 It is SO GOOD!

                1. re: GretchenS

                  BTW.. can also be made portable as mini muffin sizes. My mother used to make it in minis when I was a kid.. seemed so much more fun. When I made the spinach jibin this week I added in some roasted and chopped poblano peppers.

                  If you do decide to go the hummus route, make your own pita or tortilla chips to go along with it. Really brings the dish up a level.

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    Wow that does sound really delicious! I think the minis would be the way to go too since they would be so darn cute! Do you ever add any other veggies? Maybe some tomatoes or something?

                    I appreciate any and all new ideas. Like I said, I still have a week, so I'm very open to new ideas still.

                    I was actually thinking I'd make my own pitas and also have veggie dippers if I go the hummus route since they are so easy, and I already have all of the necessary ingredients.

                    1. re: Veggie Liv

                      Yup.. different veggies all the time. Sometimes some cooked down zucchini, sauteed mushrooms, chopped grilled red peppers, or cubes of cooked eggplant. If you do the minis, they look really cute if you add a single slice of mushroom to the top of each.

                      1. re: Veggie Liv

                        I was actually thinking I'd make my own pitas and also have veggie dippers if I go the hummus route
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        since you're making everything ahead, you *could* also do a trio of dips or salads and really knock everyone's socks off ;)

                        ideas in addition to hummus: baba ghannouj, tabbouleh, muhammara, white bean dip, tapenade...

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I think that's a great idea. I could even do a few different kinds of hummus.

                          (I made curry hummus last night that was to die for! And I used my immersion blender instead of the FP, and it came out so much smoother and creamier).

                          1. re: Veggie Liv

                            And I used my immersion blender instead of the FP, and it came out so much smoother and creamier
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            great, isn't it? of course you can also skin the chickpeas which makes for the ultimate in creaminess, but only lunatics like me do that :)

                            curry spices are delicious in hummus! here's a recent thread about variations that might give you some inspiration for others to serve:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/371749

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Thank you so much! You have been a real help. I think I'll go with two kinds of hummus (maybe my cilantro and curry), and then make some homemade pitas and cut up various dipping vegetables. It'll be something light, but packed with protein for all of my starving peers. Perhaps I'll make another dip too, in case anyone doesn't like hummus...

                              (...and yikes! Peeling the chickpeas? You are amazing!)

                              1. re: Veggie Liv

                                my pleasure!

                                if you decide to do a non-hummus option, the recipes for my Spicy Black Bean Dip and my Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip are here:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673414

                                and a suggestion on the pita - sprinkle with a little smoked paprika & toasted cumin before baking...makes *killer* chips to go with the hummus.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Ooooh yeah! If I don't make that for class, perhaps I'll try it for a super bowl party topped with some queso fresco or cheddar cheese!

                2. Perhaps a gazpacho and some little paper cups that people can sip it from?

                    1. re: Rmis32

                      Oh that cauliflower looks good (and somewhat healthy!!). Have you made it in advance before? Does it keep well and taste good at room temp?

                      1. re: Veggie Liv

                        I have not made it yet, but they did mention that it is good at room temperature.

                        1. re: Veggie Liv

                          my only concern would be the breadcrumb gremolata - after sitting in the refrigerator it's likely to get pretty soggy so i'd normally suggest you crisp it up in a toaster oven or under the broiler, but i know that's not an option.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I made it this evening and I think you are right about the breadcrumb gremolata probably getting soggy in the fridge. The recipe called for 2 heads of Cauliflower & 1/2 cup of panko. I only made 1 head of Cauliflower, but the full amount of panko. Next time, I would use double for the one head. The breadcrumb gremolata seems like it would also be great on pasta.

                          2. re: Veggie Liv

                            Re: cauliflower, I've got an Indian-spiced cauliflower dip that's fabulous with pita crisps. Maybe somebody will like this one.
                            1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
                            1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
                            1 T. Canola oil
                            1 t. black mustard seeds
                            1 med. yellow onion, fine dice
                            1 T. curry powder (domestic fine, imported better of course!)
                            1 T. sugar
                            1 c. plain lowfat yogurt
                            1/4 c. sour cream (reduced fat works in this one, if you wish)
                            1/3 c. chopped cilantro
                            1/4 t. nutmeg
                            1/4 t. cayenne
                            1/4 t. black pepper
                            Bring large pot water to a boil. Add cauli and 1/4 t. salt. partially cover; simmer about 10 minutes or until fully tender. Drain. In a saute pan over med. heat, warm oil; coat pan. Add mustard seeds, and cover. Cook about 30 seconds. The seeds should stop popping. Add onion; saute until translucent, about 5 mins. Add following ingredients up to sugar, give it another 2-3 minutes; set aside. Mash or process cooled cauliflower, and whip onion mixture in with a whisk, but don't kill it.
                            Good stuff. Room temp, please; it loses flavor if refrigerated.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Oooh, maybe this is the other dip I will do! it sounds so good, and I love the combination of mustard and cauliflower. YUM!! Thanks for sharing!

                        2. most of my ideas have been covered already, so i'll just add one more that's easy but impressive - polenta rounds or squares topped with homemade ratatouille. just be sure to take it all out of the fridge about an hour before serving so it can come up to room temp - you don't want it to be ice cold.

                          1. I just made this for my football party on Sun and it got rave reviews.

                            "Mid Eastern Roasted Veggie Dip"
                            Cut 2 large sweet potatoes and 3 large zucchini or yellow squash in cubes. Toss with salt, pepper & olive oil. Roast at 375 for 20-30 mins until soft.
                            Puree veggies with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tb pomegranate molasses, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt & pepper and 1/4- 1/2 cup of chopped toasted walnuts. This depends on your desired consistency.
                            *Suggestion to serve with sliced fennel and carrots

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: NicoleFriedman

                              This sounds really good- and I have all the ingredients. May try it tomorrow as a test run if I'm snowed in.

                            2. I agree that hummus is a must. I developed this butternut squash hummus over the holidays and it was a big hit. There are no chickpeas in it, but it tastes very hummus-like – but with a slight sweetness. The color is lovely, too: http://www.whatwouldcathyeat.com/2010...

                              Butternut Squash Hummus

                              1 small butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out
                              1/4 cup tahini
                              3 cloves garlic
                              2 tablespoons lemon juice
                              1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                              1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
                              1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional
                              )1/2 teaspoon salt
                              1 tablespoon olive oil

                              Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the squash with oil and place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Roast for about an hour, until the squash is very tender. Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cathyeats

                                I love the sound of this. I will make it today as I have decided to make many Indian flavored dishes as we have YET ANOTHER snow day .

                                1. re: cathyeats

                                  I've made something similar, but with chickpeas as well as squash. It's delicious.

                                2. A few NYE's ago, I made a huge layered bean dip that I served with tortilla chips, and everyone meat eaters and veg's alike, devoured it. It was basically just one of those can of refried beans + taco seasoning, sour cream / cream cheese, salsa + cheese + toppings deals. Not particularly inventive, but was a crowd pleaser. I *think* I got the recipe from the breakstone sour cream ad.

                                  I have also made greek versions like this: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Two-Laye...

                                  These would also be inexpensive: http://www.vegalicious.org/2007/11/12...

                                  http://www.christmas-cookies.com/reci...

                                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                  Could you do dried figs ?
                                  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fig-and-...

                                  I also think pastries can be served room temp, such as :
                                  http://www.invinciblemuffin.org/fatay...

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Ah, I see it now! Deviled eggs are always at my kind of party ;)

                                      1. re: Honestly Good Food

                                        great party food :) had she not suggested them, i would have!

                                    2. Thank you to everyone for their awesome suggestions. I ended up making curry hummus with homemade pitas and veggies, fruit, and ghg's roasted garlic and white bean dip with a few tweaks. Delicious!! Everyone loved it, and I think I set a nice precedent for future snack bringers.

                                      =)

                                      However, I am going to look through here again and see what might work for me to bring to some super bowl parties since it will be easier to bring something to that party that I do not have to make the night before. (Deviled eggs perhaps, tortas, or that roasted cauliflower with gremolata).

                                      THANK YOU!!!