The last thing I want to spend time doing during this soon-to-be-busy season is making fancy one-bite wonders, but I'm usually disappointed with anything I buy readymade. Here are five quick super easy hors d'oeuvres that I make again and again.
1. Jacques Pepin's Awesome Tapenade
What sets Jacques's simple Provençal spread apart from all the others are 2 simple ingredients: dried figs and fresh mint. The sweetness of the figs (be sure to use moist ones) offsets the saltiness of the olives and anchovies, and the fresh mint makes it light and refreshing.
RELATED: Black Olive Tapenade
2. Smoked Bluefish Pâté
Storebought versions can be too creamy, too salty or just plain monolithic and without nuance. By making your own fish pâté, it can be as mild or as highly seasoned and as chunky or creamy as you like. Feel free to sub in any smoked fish you like, or even smoked oysters or mussels.
3. Pimento Cheese
I love this straight up version of this Southern classic. Make it with extra-sharp cheddar, shred the cheese in the food processor first, then just add the rest of the ingredients, pulse and you're done. You can serve pimento cheese in a crock, or chill it super well and roll it in chopped nuts for a festive cheese log or ball. I'd suggest making extra, because it goes fast and you'll want leftovers for slathering on a burger or a grilled vegetable sandwich.
4. Spiced Nuts
You can make this recipe with the mixed nuts that come out of the can (with peanuts and brazil nuts along with the walnuts, almonds and pecans called for here) or you can make it with just one type. I usually add some whole herb sprigs along with the chopped ones, and I bake the nuts a tad longer than the recipe calls for.
5. Guacamole Swap
This vibrant green dip made with pumpkin seeds is so good with crisp vegetales like jicama sticks, cucumbers and it's also great with grilled or poached shrimp.