August 2017 Recipe of the Month

The Ultimate Appetizer Platter

I was so excited to find out we had friends visiting from California this week.

My husband played basketball with the other husband in college, so they were doing the communicating about our plans.

I knew we would see them Saturday night but not much else.

So when I found out the night before that they would be coming straight to our house from the airport and we would be doing dinner together, I wasn’t exactly prepared with dinner party plans.

Considering we had just moved and there would be three kids involved, I had no qualms about ordering pizza for dinner.

But I couldn’t have an empty counter at 5:00 for friends who had just had a full day of travel!

An appetizer was in order.

But a grocery store trip was not possible in our jam packed day.

So I scoured the pantry and refrigerator and made one of my own favorite appetizer platters!

Whether people are coming to your house or you are headed to spend time with friends, there comes a time when you will need a crowd pleasing appetizer.

While I love spinach and artichoke dip as much as the next person, I learned a long time ago that I don’t have a very good “off” switch for the stuff.

I’ll eat it until I’m full, which makes me feel tired and unable to enjoy the dinner that’s to come.

I want something that’s light, with varied textures and flavors, and that pairs well with wine most of the time :).

I also want to make something that can please just about any palette and has the ability to match most foods we might be having for dinner (I don’t want to bring seven layer dip to what turns out to be an Italian themed dinner party).

So I’ve come up with a method to make the Ultimate Appetizer Platter!

It has something for everyone, including the kiddos (case in point: we gave a tour of our house to our friends and when we came back to the kitchen the ENTIRE platter was gone because they ate it all while we were gone).

Here are the components you will want to have on hand:

– One dip – I usually chose hummus, but I think guacamole or a grainy mustard would work here as well. It adds the bulk to the platter and makes it feel more indulgent.

– Cheese – You can go wild here! Use what you have on hand or go crazy at the Whole Foods cheese display. I had English Cheddar and sliced Colby in the fridge, so that’s what we used. If I was going fancy and had more time, I would chose a goat or blue cheese with maybe a gouda.

– Meat – While this is fairly optional for me personally, I know it helps with the carnivores of the group! Salami, pepperoni and prosciutto all work well. It was a fluke I happened to have some pepperoni in the house from pizzas we made the week before, so it worked out perfectly.

– Crackers – I’m not a crostini fan, so I usually use a combination of crackers. These are a multigrain seed cracker and a gluten free Nut Thin cracker. It’s always good to have two kinds for various tastes and food needs. Bread can be delicious, but it’s also heavy and filling, so offer options.

– Veggies – Crunchy, fresh and healthy, veggies let you fill up on food without going overboard with calories! It’s also sometimes the only vegetable I get at a dinner party when I’m not in charge of the menu, so I take the opportunity to fill up. I had a fresh garden cucumber, so I used that. I would have preferred adding some carrots if I had any on hand.

– Fruit – Fruit acts as a great palette cleanser between bites and adds a natural sweetness to the appetizer platter. Not to mention the bright pop of color from cantaloupe or grapes is just so beautiful.

– Extras – This was a basic platter I put together knowing there would be kids and not knowing how hungry everyone would be. I have made much bigger platters and some adult only platters, and with those I like to add: olives, pickles, rosemary almonds, salted cashews and dried fruit.

For an even fancier presentation, serve it all on a large wooden butcher block!

I often make mini versions of this for quick and easy lunches! I’ll have a few crackers, cheese, hummus, fruit and tons of raw veggies. It fills me up without weighing me down, and keeps me from having to spend much time in the kitchen.

I hope this helps you make the ultimate appetizer the next time you need to feed some hungry friends!