More New Year’s Nibbles
Whether you’re staying in, having a few friends over, or going to a full-on New Year’s Eve bash, satisfying snacks make a good accompaniment for the evening’s libations. Here are a few ideas for a simple buffet that is sure to please your palate and fill your stomach.
Meat and cheese display. Browse the specialty cheese section of your favorite grocery store for a few choices, maybe one bold flavor profile like a garlic cheddar; a creamy, mild Brie; and a middle of road Manchego – mix it up! Add in a dry salami or a prosciutto and serve it all up with some nuts and dried fruits and it’s a buffet on a platter.
Herbed onion focaccia. With some help from the market’s refrigerated section, this crowd pleaser takes about 30 minutes to prepare. (Recipe follows.)
Crostini trio. Three simple spreads – a roasted tomato bruschetta, a Tuscan white bean hummus, and an olive tapenade – can be whipped up in minutes and served with garlic toast. Guests help themselves to their favorites. (Recipes follow.)
As always, have plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages on hand. If you’re having a party or going to one, be sure to have the number to a taxi service or a safe ride program so you can enjoy your evening knowing you’ll be safe, not sorry, in the New Year.
Herbed Onion Focaccia
- 1 package (10 to 12 oz.) refrigerated focaccia dough
- ¼ c. olive oil
- 1 T. each fresh basil and oregano, chopped
- 2 or 3 thin slices of red onion, separated into rings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the focaccia dough on a non-stick rimmed baking sheet and spread it out with your fingers until it’s even. The shape doesn’t matter. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and then prick with a fork 12 to 15 times. Brush the dough with the oil and then sprinkle with the herbs and onion. Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes. Bake 13 to 15 minutes until it’s golden brown. Allow the focaccia to cool on the pan at least 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.
Slice 1 loaf of French baguette at a slight angle into ½ inch pieces. Heat a grill pan over high heat and place the bread slices on the grill pan, turning once when nicely browned. Remove the bread slices and, while still warm, rub with a garlic clove. Allow to cool.
Tuscan White Bean Hummus
Creamy, garlicky and satisfying. You may never go back to chickpea hummus again.
- 2 cans cannellini beans
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ c. fresh oregano leaves, loosely packed
- 1 lemon
- 1 t. salt
- ½ t. black pepper
- ¼ c. olive oil
Rinse and drain the beans. Place the beans, garlic, oregano, the juice of 1 lemon and the salt and pepper into the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the beans are broken down and nearly smooth. With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil through the food tube of the processor until the mixture is smooth and thick. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend. Yield: 2 ½ c.
This spread also makes a great puttanesca sauce for linguine pasta.
- 1 6 oz. can whole black olives
- 1 5.75 oz. jar green olives
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 6 sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
- ¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¼ c. olive oil
Place all ingredients except the oil in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the olives are finely chopped. With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil through the food tube of the processor until the mixture just holds together. Yield: 2 c.
Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
Fresh summer tomatoes make the best bruschetta, but in the winter, a quick roasting brings out the flavor of the tomatoes.
- 1 container grape tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- Olive oil
- ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the tomatoes and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, just enough to coat, about 2 T. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix to evenly coat the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Discard the garlic. Cut the tomatoes in half, allowing the skins to slip off. Strain the tomatoes if necessary and mix with the basil in small bowl. Yield: about 1 ½ c.