Entertaining during the holiday season doesn’t have to mean loading up on rich foods that leave you ready for a nap an hour into the party. Vegetable-focused appetizers will impress your guests while leaving them feeling satisfied, not stuffed.
The general rule of thumb is five appetizers per person if there is an entrée to follow. If you’re planning a finger food evening, aim for 10 appies per person plus a dessert.
Almond Stuffed Mushrooms
These aren’t your average mushroom caps! Packed with umami flavor and loads of phytonutrients, they can also be turned into a vegetarian main course by using large portobellos instead of an assortment of smaller mushrooms.
20 – 1 in (2.5 cm) diameter mushrooms, like cremini
1 tsp (5 mL) + 2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 mL) raw almonds
1/2 medium onion
1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh rosemary
Wipe mushrooms clean with damp cloth. Gently remove stems. Grease baking dish with 1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil, then place mushrooms in dish with gill side up.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Grind almonds in food processor until fine, then add remaining ingredients and continue to process until smooth. Fill mushrooms with mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Each stuffed mushroom contains: 25 calories; 1 g protein; 2 g total fat (0 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 1 g total carbohydrates (1 g sugars, 0 g fiber); 77 mg sodium
Tempeh Cabbage Rolls
By filling these rolls with tempeh rather than red meat, you get the nutritional benefits of fermented soy, which include improved digestive health and immune support. These appies may take a little extra work, but they’re worth it. They can be refrigerated for up to two days until ready to heat and serve.
1 Tbsp (15 mL) white vinegar
1 medium red cabbage
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 large button mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 – 8 oz (225 g) package tempeh, thawed if frozen
1 Tbsp (15 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped walnuts
1/2 – 5 1/2 oz (156 mL) can tomato paste
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream or Greek yogurt for garnish (optional)
How to prepare cabbage: Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add vinegar. Spear cabbage head in its stem with large roasting fork, then place in water. After 1 minute remove cabbage from water. Slash core with knife to peel off a layer of leaves.
Return cabbage to water, then after another 30 seconds, remove next layer of leaves. Continue every 30 seconds until all large leaves have been removed. You should get a few more than 15 leaves, which allows for extras in case any break.
Return all leaves to pot and simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove leaves from pot and lay on rack until cool enough to handle.
Tip: Wear a clean silicone oven mitt to keep from getting splashed with boiling water.
Filling: Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, then add onion. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion browns lightly. Add mushrooms, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release liquid, approximately 8 minutes.
Add tempeh and cook for another 5 minutes until soft and browning, then add soy sauce and stir to combine. Add walnuts; cook for 1 minute. Add half the tomato paste and mix well. Remove from heat, stir in dill and black pepper, and then set aside until cool enough to work with.
Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C) and lightly grease baking pan that has a lid.
Place cooled cabbage leaf on cutting board, and cut out 1 in (2.5 cm) of the hard bottom core and discard. Place 2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) tempeh mixture in center of leaf, fold in both sides, then roll up bottom and tuck into pocket between top of leaf and filling. Snugly pull top of leaf around and place in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining leaves. Cover with lid.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cut each roll in half on the bias, spear with bamboo skewer and place on platter. Garnish with dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt if you like.
Each roll (without garnish) contains: 99 calories; 5 g protein; 6 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 8 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars, 2 g fiber); 131 mg sodium
This finger food can make a meal—it’s so satisfying! The simplicity of garlic and tomatoes lets the seafood really shine. Mussels can be substituted for clams, and shrimp can be substituted for scallops if you like.
1 whole grain baguette
4 garlic cloves, divided
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing bread
1/2 lb (225 g) clams, scrubbed clean
1/2 lb (225 g) scallops, rinsed and patted dry
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white wine
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
Slice baguette very thinly and spread pieces on large baking sheet. Cut 2 garlic cloves in half and rub on bread, then brush each slice with olive oil.
Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).
Heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil in pot on medium heat. Place clams in pot and cover with lid. After 8 to 9 minutes, check the clams. They should all have opened. Discard any that don’t open. Remove clams from pot, reserving liquid that’s been released by clams. Remove clams from shells and discard shells. Chop clams and scallops into small pieces. Add tomatoes and wine to reserved pot of clam broth and heat on medium for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened.
Once oven is heated, bake bread until crispy, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, dice remaining 2 garlic cloves. In skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic; after a minute, add seafood and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes, then add tomato clam broth. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Do not overcook or scallops can become rubbery.
To serve, place crostini on large platter. Top each slice with 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 mL) seafood mixture.
Each serving contains: 308 calories; 25 g protein; 8 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 32 g total carbohydrates (2 g sugars, 2 g fiber); 470 mg sodium