Delicious small bites make a big splash.

Written by  Donna Pierce

Spanish bartenders are credited with creating the first tapas we know today as "small plates" as a method of guarding bar patrons' beverages from fruit flies attracted to sweet wines and popular sherries. As the custom grew and the bartenders became accustomed to covering wine glasses with bread slices, cured ham and cheese, the name for these strategically placed treats originated from the Spanish "tapar," meaning "to cover." Today, the small plate concept has an international menu, thanks to diverse, bite-sized appetizers criss-crossing culinary borders and delighting guests with small bursts of flavor, one bite at a time.

Mushroom Bites and Dip

Mushroom Bites and Dip

½ cup each: prepared pesto and light sour cream
12 large white button or crimini mushrooms, halved lengthwise
Squeeze of lemon
½ teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat a grill or stovetop grill pan to medium. Mix pesto with sour cream; set aside. Place mushrooms on grill; cover. Grill mushrooms until cooked through and starting to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Skewer 2–3 on appetizer skewers. Serve with pesto dip.

Veggie Small Bite

Veggie Small Bite "Sliders"

2 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
¼ cup light balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 small high-fiber whole grain dinner rolls
8 slices red onion 8 slices tomato

Place portabellas and vinaigrette in a sealed food storage bag. Close; lightly rub the vinaigrette into the mushrooms. Let marinate at least 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms from bag; drain.  Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the mushrooms on the grill gill side down; cook 4 minutes. Turn; continue grilling until mushroom is cooked almost through, about 4 more minutes. Remove from pan; drain mushrooms on paper towel, gill side down. Cut each mushroom into quarters; place on buns. Top with onion and tomato.  Makes 8 pieces.

Veggie Small Bite

Feta and Kalamata Olive Bruschetta

8 thick slices country bread
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into slices
Black pepper to taste
½ cup sliced, pitted Kalamata or black Greek olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or oregano
Toast or grill bread; rub with garlic while still
hot. Drizzle one side of bread with olive oil; top each piece with a slice of feta, a sprinkling of olives and a bit of pepper. Garnish with basil.
Makes 8 servings.




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