Appetizers for Christmas Entertaining — Meatless Monday

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Food stylist: Adrienne Anderson Prop stylist: Leslie Siegel

Photo by: Andrew McCaul

Andrew McCaul

Even though the holidays are all about indulgence and your plans for the next 48 hours likely include a seemingly endless buffet of ham, beef, turkey or pork, there are indeed ways to work in a few meat-free bites, especially during the appetizer course. As you prepare to host a holiday get-together, look to Food Network's roundup of simple-to-make, meatless starters to impress not only vegetarians but hard-core meat-eaters alike. Check out a few of our favorite party-ready appetizers below, each a flavorful combination of traditional holiday tastes and ingredients, then tell us in the comments: What's your favorite holiday appetizer?

No longer reserved for the pasta course alone, ravioli make go-to party-ready appetizers when served not under a saucy topping but as eat-with-your-hands snacks. When preparing its Toasted Ravioli recipe (pictured above), Food Network Magazine saves time in the kitchen by using store-bought fresh ravioli instead of making these cheese-filled beauties from scratch. After a quick dip in herbed breadcrumbs, the ravioli are deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside and warm on the inside. Serve a bowl of your favorite marinara sauce on the side for easy, delicious dunking.

For a dressed-up appetizer that will wow the crowd, serve Food Network Magazine's Tomato Gorgonzola Soup, a thick, creamy puree of whole tomatoes, garlic, a splash of cognac and heavy cream. Crumbled gorgonzola cheese adds a tangy bite, while fragrant basil offers a hint of freshness to this top-rated recipe, best finished with a splash of cider vinegar. Since this soup is rich and hearty, consider making your other appetizer offerings light, like Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans or Oven-Dried Tomatoes, so that guests don't become full before the main course. Be sure to use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth to maintain a meatless soup.

Topping sprinkled with herbs in a gray pottery style dish placed on a dark gray surface

©Con Poulos, Jamie Kimm Marina Malchin

Con Poulos, Jamie Kimm Marina Malchin

Looking for a last-minute appetizer that can be prepped in a flash? Try Food Network Magazine's Walnut-Pepper Spread. This 10-minute recipe combines crunchy walnuts, golden honey and a splash of lemon juice for freshness, plus roasted red peppers and a dash of spicy red pepper flakes. Serve this crowd-pleasing spread with crackers, vegetables or crisp endive spears for a light pre-dinner snack that won't weigh down your guests.

Visit Food Network's Holiday Central for more easy recipes and entertaining ideas.

Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.

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