Three Easy Appetizers

I’m not much of an appetizer aficionado. It’s a rare day that you’ll find me rolling out my own puff pastry dough to mold into fussy canapés.  When I throw a dinner party, I want guests to come to the table good and hungry, so often go minimal when it comes to pre-meal eats: a dish of olives, a pretty glass filled with slender breadsticks, spiced nuts.

During the holidays, though, when things are feeling especially festive, I like to bring it up a notch with the hors d’oeuvres. These three here are my tried and true favorites. All have four or fewer ingredients and can be pulled together in no time. They are so simple, in fact, that I’m not even going to burden you with a full recipe; just a photo and quickie description for each.

Pancetta Wrapped Dates

Pancetta-Wrapped Dates

This little number is known as “pork crack” in our house, it’s that addictive. Pancetta is wrapped around medjool dates and baked until crispy. You can take it a step further and slip an almond or a piece of cheese in the cavity that the pit leaves behind before wrapping the date in the pancetta.

You will need:

  • Thinly sliced pancetta
  • Pitted Medjool dates


Preheat oven to 350 F. Wrap a piece of pancetta that is not quite as wide as the date and long enough to wrap about 1 1/2 times around it. The pancetta should adhere to itself. Set the dates seam-side down on a baking sheet. Bake until the pancetta is crispy and begins to caramelize. The time will vary somewhat depending on the thickness of the pancetta, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Smokes Salmon with Creme Fraiche Appetizer

Smoke Salmon Canapes

You will need:

  • Thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • Good-quality, thinly sliced German-style bread
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream
  • Dill for garnish

Method: Cut the bread into squares that are about 2 inches by 2 inches. Fold smoked salmon on each slice of bread. Dab on a teaspoon or so of creme fraiche. Finish with dill garnish.

Cheese, honey, and walnut crostini
Honeyed Walnuts with Cheese

On a trip to Spain a number of years ago we happened upon a roadside stand peddling glass jars of walnuts steeped in local honey. Sold. It’s heavenly served in a small crock or on a plate along with an assertive cheese. I’m partial to a creamy blue or Parmegiano Reggiano, or even Spain’s own Manchego.

You will need:

  • Walnuts
  • Honey
  • Cheese, such as creamy blue, Parmesan, or Manchego
  • A crusty loaf of bread

Toast the walnuts according to your preferred method. I like to do it in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Put the walnuts in a ramekin, crock or on your serving plate and cover with a generous amount of honey. The walnuts should be immersed in honey. Set cheese out with honeyed walnuts and thin slices of lightly toasted crusty bread.

What are your “go to” appetizers?


12.06.2011 at9:50 PM #


Any cheese suggestions for the date appetizer?

12.06.2011 at9:50 PM #

Katie Morford

You could use a cheese with a fairly distinct flavor that can stand up to the sweetness of the dates and the saltiness of the pancetta. I’d say a goat cheese or blue cheese. Be sure the seal up the date well so the cheese doesn’t ooze out too much as it cooks.

12.07.2011 at11:13 AM #

kim brady

I like baked brie in puff pastry. You can serve sweet(apples & pears with cinnamon) or savory(mushrooms & thyme). You can also wrap the brie in biscuit dough then bake.

12.10.2015 at7:17 PM #

Anne Mullen

A good retro one from a friend is Oscar Mayer square ham slices slathered with a mix of lo-cal cream cheese, diced garlic and chopped pecans. It’s easy and amazingly delicious. I’ll give more precise instructions to anyone who wants them.

12.10.2015 at7:17 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Anne. Sometimes the retro apps are the best.

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