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Jan 30, 2014 10:35 AM

Quick appetizer suggestion needed for tonight (guests have various dietary restrictions)

I'm having a group of 5 over tonight. One is a vegetarian, one is dairy-free, and one is doing paleo (low-carb), the other two will eat anything.

I'm starting with a green salad, and moving on to brown rice pasta (the paleo is ok with it) - one sauce with veggies, another sauce with meat.

What I'd like to have is some sort of appetizer as they arrive. Usually, I'll do hummus and crudites, but I feel like that's what I always serve this group. I just thought about cheese/crackers/salami (that way, the each of the restricted food groups could do their own thing)... actually, that's not a bad idea!!!!

I've never pulled off bruschetta well, and I figured bread being vehicle would be limiting to the non-grains person.

Any other ideas that might complement the red-sauce pasta main?

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  1. Not sure if this is entirely what you are looking for, but I've made this pesto/spread without the cheese to make it dairy free...and it's vegetarian and low carb too. It's good w/ both crackers/pitas and with crudite.

    2 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      That looks delicious! I've just started re-visiting dips (hummus, the GHG's smoky black bean dip) and will definitely be trying out this one! Thank you

      1. re: The Oracle

        oh! and a riff on that pesto...

        instead of oil, whiz the ingredients in a food pro with walnuts or almonds. i also add a little red chili flake. form into bite-size balls. great little snacks for cocktails.

    2. dinner is starch so instead of using another starch for your app, think of either sturdy leaves, like endive or radicchio, or cuke rounds as the base. you can roast carrots or red peppers, then whiz in the food pro with some ginger, olive oil, and just enough nut butter to make it sturdy. finish with some cilantro or basil.

      stuffed mushrooms, with herbs would be another easy bite to start.

      does your vegetarian friend eat eggs? deviled eggs are always a big hit for me.

      spiced nuts or home-made potato chips are always popular too, just as nibbles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I was just going to suggest stuffed mushrooms - you could do half with sausage and half with breadcrumbs, so the paleo person could avoid the grains.

      2. Since you are serving a salad, you don't really need the crudites. How about expanding the cheese/crackers/salami into a more complete antipasti with some marinated mushrooms and/or artichokes, olives, grilled/roasted vegetables, roasted garlic, etc. A few different kinds of cheese and meat. Fresh bread or crostini, crackers, pita, etc. (If you have a Whole Foods or TJ's nearby, its pretty easy to find things already prepared.)

        People rave about these Prosciutto Chips:

        And some Kale Chips from the same blog:

        1. The smoked almond butter with toasted crispy rosemary on slices of Asian pear worked for all of the above, at least at my party on 1/11. It comes together in about 5 minutes and got rave reviews.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Chefpaulo

            The pear slices reminded me of this excellent flavor for apple slices

            1. re: Chefpaulo

              do you acidulate the apples and pears to keep them from turning brown?

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                They went so fast they didn't have time to turn brown. When gone, I put out the pita chips.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  opal apples don't brown very quickly. Still mostly white sliced in the fridge over a day later

                  1. re: autumm

                    have never seen opal apples.


                2. re: Chefpaulo

                  sounds delicious! Did you plate it just like any other spread?

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    Yup. A small bowl of the smoked almond spread with a few toasted leaves of the fried rosemary on top surrounded by the Asian pear slices. Pears were gone in 10 minutes.Pita chips scooped the rest. A huge hit.
                    P.S> Opal apples are new to me as well.

                3. Tapenade is vegetarian, dairy-free, and paleo (it's usually serve it with crackers or bread crisps, I'm sure you could find some paleo snack-crisp option to add to the plate.) It's also easy and ready in advance! I usually do a straight-up olive one, but recently tried this and it was delicious:


                  Spiced nuts are also veggie- and paleo-friendly.

                  Or, what about a big antipasto platter? You can include lots of fresh and marinated veggies, nuts, and olives that everyone can eat, and then also some little mozarella balls or other cheese and salami slices that people can choose individually what they like. Then it's more about shopping than cooking...