It’s holiday party appetizer week. YAS! This week I’m sharing my favorite recipes for super easy appetizers that can either be prepped in advance, or are ready in under thirty minutes. Let’s get started with these winter harvest endive cups. They’re fast (just twenty minutes!), nutritious, and totally foolproof. They’re naturally vegan and gluten free, and bursting with flavor. Plus the beautiful green hues and pops of red are so very seasonal and cheerful.
I’m not really sure how it became December overnight, but it did – about three nights ago. Blow me over with a feather friends. We spent the weekend getting a tree (which sits grandly naked in the living room), stringing up lights outside, and recipe testing a whole mess of holiday party appetizers. Basically, perfection.
Can we chat about Christmas lights for a second? And by “chat” I mean I’ll just ramble away and you’ll listen, right? Excellent. Y’all are such good listeners. I’m a white light kind of lady. They’re clean and sparkly, and they go with everything. Last year a bunch of our lights died, so off we went to the Depot to get some new ones. Cassian immediately snatched up a whole mess of colored lights, and I groaned.
“Darling…Mama likes white lights.”
“But moo-oooom, I want these COLORED lights. They’re so awesome!”.
I looked at Cameron pleadingly, begging for him to help me guide our child into the…light. And he looked me straight in the eyes and said “Christmas is for kids babe.” Touché.
Off to the cashier we went, colored lights clutched in excited 6-year old hands. Several days later he declared our house “the best ever” and holiday history was made in our home.
This year, I simply embraced the madness that is colored lights. We’ve got shrub nets, and twinkling ones, and tiny little bulbous ones, and I even managed to find a whole mess of Charlie Brown lights and made the most epic Charlie Brown tree in our front yard. Colors y’all – they’re awesome (though my tree lights will remain white, thankyouverymuch).
So. Colors. Appetizers. Making people happy. This all ties into the theme of this week and that is HOLIDAY APPETIZERS kids! Because what’s more joyful than tiny little appetizers bursting with color and flavor at your holiday party? Few things my friends, few things. I’ve got a slate of holiday party appetizers coming up this week that are low on stress and high on delicious. Each one can be partially or completely prepared in advance, or is ready in 30 minutes or less.
Let’s get this party started with these winter harvest endive cups. Endive gets a bad rap. I admit, on its own it can be a tad bitter. But stuffed with juicy pear, crispy celery, salty gorgonzola, and sweet little pops of pomegranate? It’s a train headed straight to tasty time. These bite sized endive cups are ready in just 30 minutes, and tolerate standing at room temperature for at least an hour (if they last that long). They’re naturally gluten free and vegetarian, and so very cheerful and seasonal with all of those lovely green hues and pops of red. And did I mention delicious? If I didn’t, I just did.
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Winter Harvest Endive Cups Recipe Notes
Every holiday party menu needs an appetizer or two that’s either healthy or no-bake. This one’s both, plus it’s stupid easy to prepare. You’re welcome.
We’re gonna get started by dicing up some produce – specifically a nice, firm pear. Select a pear that’s just barely ripe, and not at all soft. You should be able to press into the flesh ever so slightly without it indenting too much or bruising at all. That’s your perfect pear for these endive cups. Core and dice that guy up and toss it into a mixing bowl. Then add a very, very thinly sliced stalk of celery. A mandoline is useful here if you have one. Toss in some pomegranate seeds, a little crumbled blue cheese, some roasted pistachios, and a little bit of chopped parsley. Tada! We’re nearly there.
Next you’ll make a quick vinaigrette with champagne vinegar (so fancy), dijon mustard, honey and olive oil. Give it all a really vigorous whisk until it’s completely emulsified, and then pour it over the vegetables. Toss it up, and set it aside for a quick marinade.
Next comes the “hard” part – separating the endive leaves. To be fair, this isn’t the most intuitive task if you’re not familiar with endive, but it’s also not terribly difficult. Serious Eats to the rescue with a video tutorial here. This task is made easier by using super fresh endive (it has more water content and the leaves will release more easily). And don’t be shy about trimming away more of the root end as you get closer to the core – sure, you’ll end up with smaller leaves, but your frustration level will decrease considerably.
Arrange the endive leaves onto a platter, spoon the filling into the leaves, and….you’re done. That’s it. SO EASY. This recipe for endive cups makes about 12 individually portioned cups, and easily scales up for a crowd. For a cocktail party, plan on one endive cup per person. For a formal appetizer before a main course, plan on two.
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Winter Harvest Endive Cups
These two-bite endive cups are fast (just twenty minutes!), nutritious, and totally foolproof. They're naturally vegetarian and gluten free, and packed with flavor. Plus the beautiful green hues and pops of red are so very seasonal and cheerful.
Stuffing for Endive Cups
- 1 firm pear diced to 1/2" cubes
- 1 stalk celery trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp roasted salted pistachios chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 oz blue cheese crumbled
- 1 head endive leaves separated
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tsp champagne vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Prepare the raw ingredients. Dice the pear, trim and thinly slice the celery (using a mandoline is useful if you have one), chop the pistachios and parsley, and crumble the blue cheese. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently toss.
In a separate bowl, add the olive oil, champagne vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.
Gently peel each endive leaf, starting from the outside and working towards the center, and arrange on a platter. Occasionally trimming the root end with a sharp knife will help release the leaves more easily. Scoop the filling into the endive cups. Serve immediately. This dish holds up well at room temperature for at least an hour.
Official serving size represented by the calorie count is two cups per person. For a cocktail party, plan on one cup per person. For an appetizer before a main course, plan on two.
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