sweet and savory

A Simple, Crowd-Pleasing Vegetarian Appetizer To Serve At That Last Summer Shindig

Because you cannot go wrong with cucumbers and blue cheese.

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

vegetarian appetizer

A few more vegetarian recipes you’ll love:

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