Or make a bunch and you have an eclectic makeshift dinner.

By By Genevieve Ko
November 20, 2017

Photoshop your fridge-we bet you already have many of the ingredients for these easy appetizer ideas. Combine those staples in fresh and creative ways for fun and festive new tastes. Prep a bunch for a gathering, or throw together a few for a different kind of weeknight dinner.


All Photos: Sang An

1. Get fancy with fruit.

Pair slices with savory ingredients and you've got easy appetizers that achieve the delicious balance of sweet, zesty, salty, and spicy. (Add these to the list of party-pleaser gluten-free appetizer ideas.)

  • Lay a manchego cheese shaving on a red pear wedge, then wrap with prosciutto and sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper.
  • Scatter tarragon leaves, lemon zest, and sea salt flakes over cantaloupe, sprinkle with lemon juice, and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle pumpkin seeds, lime zest, and torn mint on slices of pineapple; drizzle with avocado oil.

2. Set up a sushi bar.

Everyone gets to create their own twist on a hand roll. Fish, rice, and veggies are a great place to start, but you can also try other seafood, tofu, or even cooked meat. Place stacks of nori squares (buy snack packs), rice, and fixings (see above for ideas) on a platter. Fill the squares and roll them into cones or fold them like tacos. (Or make it an entrée and serve homemade poke bowls and try fruit sushi for dessert.)

Winning combos:

  • Sushi rice + avocado + cucumber + smoked salmon
  • Black rice + shrimp + orange and yellow peppers
  • Sushi rice + flaked cooked salmon + cucumber + carrots + red pepper
  • Black rice + boiled eggs + radishes + avocado + radicchio
  • Roasted sweet potato + seared shishito peppers + kohlrabi + kale

3. Put it on a skewer.

The trick is choosing unexpected ingredients that play nicely when threaded together. Try these combos for happiness on a stick or invent your own. There are no rules here-any food is fair game.

  • Toasted sourdough cubes tossed with pesto + baby arugula + feta + olives
  • Cooked peeled shrimp + papaya + very thin slices jalapeño + cilantro
  • Peppadew pepper + roast beef + Gruyère cheese + dill + horseradish cream

4. Take spreads and dips to the next level.

Yes, they're perfect with crudités and crackers. But you can also use them as filling for vegetarian wraps, a sauce for roasted veggies or meat, or even a salad dressing. Purée all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor or a blender until very smooth, then drizzle in the oil with the machine running. Blend in water to thin if needed, then season to taste with salt and pepper. (Also try these flavor-layered mash-up sauces that you'll want to put on everything.)

Sweet & Savory Yogurt Dip

No blending required: Just swirl sun-dried tomato pesto into thick plain yogurt, then top with apricot-orange marmalade.

Miso Sweet Potato

  • 2 cups cooked peeled purple sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Garnish: chopped pistachios

Cheesy Squash

  • 2 cups steamed peeled kabocha squash
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Garnish: parsley

Pesto Avocado

  • 1 pitted and peeled large ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Garnish: chives and lemon zest

Almond Garlic

  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted Marcona almonds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Garnish: sliced mild chilies and sprouts

5. Start with flatbread and pile it high.

Yogurt, vegetables, beans, a drizzle of honey-this twist on the toast trend has endless variations. (And don't even get us started on sweet potato toast.) Just mix and match your toppings and see what deliciousness transpires. Use store-bought naan. Add something creamy like cheese or a bean purée, then layer on veggies and seasonings. Bake at 400°F until the bread is browned.

  • Labneh + smashed roasted and peeled beets + za'atar and sea salt
  • Ricotta + thin slices of peeled and roasted butternut squash, brushed with gochujang (Korean chili bean paste) + honey + chopped pistachios and parsley or dill
  • White beans puréed with harissa + wilted leafy greens + purple cauliflower florets