Appetizers for Christmas Entertaining — Meatless Monday
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.
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.
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.