The perfect hors d’oeuvre combines multiple textures and complimentary flavors in just one bite. One bite! Maybe that’s why, when tasked with making the pre-dinner snack, we always seem to find ourselves maniacally flipping though countless cookbooks and magazines and Pinterest boards trying to land on just the right bite-sized, delicious, easy, healthy, beautiful nibble. Or at least we did do that, until we found this simple, genius vegetarian appetizer option: Cucumber bites with beets, blue cheese, candied walnuts and a little balsamic drizzle.
Let that sink in for a minute, while we explain why these bites are so perfect: They taste delicious (think: an actual flavor explosion with a mix of textures), they look beautiful (especially when arranged on a platter) and they are easy to serve (make them hours ahead of time and keep in fridge til party time). Oh, and: They are really inexpensive to make. Even the balsamic syrup is a kitchen hack, made from regular, store-bought vinegar. And if you’re still not sold, consider their versatility: a perfect fit no matter the season. Picture them before a summer BBQ, an autumn stew, or a winter roast, and they still work perfectly.
CUCUMBER BITE RECIPE
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 beet, cooked and peeled
- ½ small package of blue cheese
- 15-20 walnut halves
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 3 tbs. honey
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- To make the candied walnuts: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Add the walnuts and mix to coat evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to a wide saute pan and cook on medium-high heat until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup and the nuts smell toasted but not burnt.
- Transfer to a plate rubbed with olive oil (to prevent the nuts sticking) and let cool. As they chill, the glaze will harden on the walnuts.
- To make the balsamic drizzle: In the same pan, bring to a boil the balsamic vinegar. Let cook vigorously until it has reduced to a very thick syrup. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Slice the cucumber into thin rounds and arrange on a serving platter. You should yield 15-20 slices. Cut the beet into small pieces and top each slice of cucumber with 1 piece of beet, a small pinch of blue cheese, and 1 candied walnut half.
- At this stage, you can store them in the fridge. When you are ready, drizzle over the balsamic reduction as a garnish.
Note: You can also get creative by interchanging the beet for apple, pear or a cherry tomato, and the blue cheese for goat chevre or any other strong and pungent cheese.
A few more vegetarian recipes you’ll love:
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