Spring is here, and the promise of longer, warmer evenings has us dreaming of al fresco dinner parties with friends. We’re also eyeing the seasonal produce that’s beginning to appear in our local markets. Eating seasonally offers a wealth of benefits, from higher nutritional value to price but, most importantly, delicate ingredients like fruits and vegetables taste best when bought in season. These 5 easy appetizer recipes show off the best spring produce and will impress your guests.
5.) Asparagus Gruyere Tart
If there’s a god of dinner parties, we have to thank them for frozen puff pastry! This spring tart recipe from Martha Stewart is easy to throw together and is also so pretty to look at that you’ll feel like a professional.
Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pizza cutter (optional)
- Thaw your pastry in the refrigerator overnight.
- Flour your surface. Roll the puff pastry out into a rectangle approximately 16 inches by 10 inches. Be sparing with the rolling pin, too much pressure will ruin the pastry.
- Return your pastry to the fridge while you preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
- Line your baking tray with baking paper and place the pastry on top. Using a knife, score a rectangle border roughly 1 inch in from the edge of the pastry. Pierce the inside of the rectangle all over with a fork.
- Bake the pastry for 15 minutes or until golden. Don’t overcook, it’ll be going back in the oven later.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese.
- Cut asparagus to equal lengths, so they fit in a straight line along the tart. Brush over with a layer of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into slices with a knife or pizza cutter.
Tip: For an even more eye-catching appetizer, alternate green, white and purple asparagus. Top each portion with a small slice of prosciutto for a more luxurious treat.
4.) Spinach, Fennel and Orange Salad
Spring is the beginning of salad season. This fresh and fruity salad from Relish combines multiple seasonal ingredients.
With fennel, spinach and oranges working together, you’re getting a serious dose of vitamin C in every juicy bite.
Serves: 6 to 8
1 medium bulb fennel
1 (9-ounce) bag baby leaf spinach
¼ medium red onion
3 navel oranges
½ cup Sultana raisins
⅓ cup pine nuts
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- Remove the core and fronds from your fennel and thinly slice.
- Peel and thinly slice onions.
- Peel the oranges and split into segments.
- Add all of the salad ingredients to your bowl.
- Put your vinaigrette ingredients into your jar and close tightly. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Tip: Pair with a Sauvignon blanc or Semillon to complement the fruity flavor.
3.) Collard Green Wraps
This recipe from Fresh Tastes was originally conceived as a healthy lunch idea, but it’s worth adding to your repertoire of easy appetizer recipes for Asian or Mediterranean meals.
Collard greens are a great source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, and this recipe will give your spring dinner guests a fun and unusual way of eating them.
5-6 collard green leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges and divided
1 cup of homemade or store-bought hummus
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2-4 stems of mint
2-4 stems of Italian parsley
1 avocado, halved and sliced
- Fill the saucepan or pot with about 3 inches of water and set on high heat. Add a few pinches of salt and a small squeeze of lemon,
- When the water begins to simmer, reduce to medium heat. Add the collard green leaves one at a time and cook for about 30 to 40 seconds each. When they turn from dark green to bright green, remove them from the water.
- Remove the leaves from the water and set on paper towels to cool. Continue with the collard green leaves until you’ve used them all.
- Let the leaves cool slightly before working on the next step.
- Place a tablespoon of hummus toward of the top of the first leaf. Top with small amounts of each ingredient. Don’t overstuff them or they will be difficult to roll.
- Roll the wrap, tucking the bottom over the ingredients and rolling in the sides.
- Continue the stuffing and rolling until you’ve used all of the leaves.
Tip: Switch hummus for a small spoonful of peanut butter and a drop of soy sauce for a tasty Thai-inspired alternative.
2.) Cantaloupe and Mozzarella with Prosciutto and Basil
This is one of those easy appetizer recipes that is so simple you’ll feel like you’re cheating, but your guests will love the succulent blend of sweet melon, savory prosciutto and aromatic basil.
Martha Stewart makes hers with cantaloupe, but it works just as well with honeydew or a mixture.
1 cantaloupe, halved and seeded
3/4 pound mozzarella balls or hand-torn buffalo mozzarella
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Melon baller (optional)
Large serving platter
- If you have a melon baller, use this to create your melon pieces. Otherwise, cut the melon into bite-sized cubes or slices. Add to a large bowl.
- Add the mozzarella, pepper flakes, salt, pepper and top with the oil. Stir thoroughly until the ingredients are well combined. When you’re ready to serve, stir in the basil.
- Lay your prosciutto slices on a large platter and top with the melon mix. Serve immediately.
TIP: Freeze some extra melon bites and use them as an alternative to ice cubes for delicate, fruity drinks that won’t get watered down.
1.) Avocado Deviled Eggs
These deviled eggs are a clever spin on a classic that are bound to cause a stir. This recipe makes 12 servings, but they’ll be gone in no time, so it may be worth doubling up on the quantities.
Serves: 6 – 12
2 slices bacon, diced intosmall bits
6 large eggs
1 avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Piping bag with a star tip or a small plastic freezer bag with one corner cut off.
- Bring your skillet to a medium to high heat and cook the bacon for 8 minutes or until crispy. Place on paper towels to remove some of the grease.
- In a saucepan, cover your eggs with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove saucepan from the heat and put on the lid. Leave for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain well run cold water over the eggs to cool. Peel them and cut each egg in half.
- Transfer the egg yolks into a bowl and add the avocado. Mash until you have a paste.
- Stir in the cilantro lemon juice and zest, and season with salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, a freezer bag with a small corner cut off will do.
- Place the eggs on your serving plate. Fill them with your avocado mixture and top with chives, cayenne pepper and bacon bits.
- If not serving immediately, carefully cover the plate with clingfilm and these little treats will keep in the fridge for up to 3 hours.
Tip: Switch out bacon bits for smashed croutons to make this recipe vegetarian-friendly while still keeping the crispy finish.