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Food

Four Flavorful Appetizers for Holiday Entertaining

December 5, 2022

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, try the following appetizers for your next festive get-together.

 

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

 

1 cup hummus, store-bought or homemade

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Greek extra virgin olive oil

Hot sauce (optional)

 

In a mixing bowl, stir together the hummus, pumpkin, and smoked paprika. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to a serving dish, and drizzle with the Greek extra virgin olive oil. If using, drizzle with hot sauce. Serve with toasted pita cut into triangles, olives, carrot, and celery sticks. Enjoy with your favorite Greek wine.

 

Spanakopitakia- Spinach Pie Triangles

 

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped

1 small-medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup feta, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 (16-oz.) package frozen phyllo dough, thawed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Spanakopita, spinach pie. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
Spanakopita, spinach pie. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked spinach to a large strainer and press with a wooden spoon to remove any excess water. Then set aside. Heat the skillet to medium-high and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Transfer the cooked onion to a mixing bowl. Add the cooked spinach, feta, dill, mint, and scallions and stir together. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the stacked phyllo dough lengthwise into 2-inch wide strips. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside. Place one strip of phyllo on your work surface and brush with some of the melted butter. Top with another strip, brush with butter, and repeat once more. Place a tablespoon of filling on one end of strip one inch from the end. Fold in the corner of the end to form a triangle. Then, fold in the triangle edge to form another triangle. Continue folding like a flag, until the triangle pastry is complete. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo strips and filling. Brush the triangle pastries with the remaining butter. You may need to melt additional butter for brushing. The spinach pie triangles can be covered with plastic wrap or put in a freezer bag and frozen at this point for up to a month, if needed. Bake in the preheated 375-degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

 

Halloumi and Veggies Appetizer

 

1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers, color of your choice, cut into strips

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

6-8 whole wheat pitas

1 pound halloumi, cut into 2-inch strips

1 cup hummus store bought or homemade

2 cups baby arugula

In this photo taken Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019, Cyprus' halloumi cheese is seen roasted on a plate at "Riverland" farm in Kampia village near Nicosia, Cyprus. Cyprus' halloumi cheese, with a tradition dating back some five centuries, is the island nation's leading export. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
In this photo taken Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019, Cyprus’ halloumi cheese is seen roasted on a plate at “Riverland” farm in Kampia village near Nicosia, Cyprus. Cyprus’ halloumi cheese, with a tradition dating back some five centuries, is the island nation’s leading export. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Add the cabbage, peppers, olive oil and vinegar to a bowl and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Toast the pitas in the oven or toaster, as preferred. In a large frying pan, fry the halloumi for 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden on both sides. Cut pitas in half and spread with some hummus, top with the cabbage and peppers, halloumi, and some of the arugula. Serve immediately.

 

Saganaki Cheese Bites with Sun-Dried Tomato Topping

 

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, dry, not oil-packed, sliced

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pits removed, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon Greek dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound kasseri cheese, cut into 1 1/2“ cubes

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves

Olive oil, for frying

 

For the topping, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Soak until soft for 15 minutes, then drain. Add the tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the olives, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth, then set aside.

Heat the oil for frying in a deep skillet to 375 degrees F. Dip cheese cubes in cold water and dredge in flour. Working in batches, fry the cheese cubes, turning them over once, until all sides are golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and top each saganaki bite with some of the sun-dried tomato topping garnish with the chopped mint.

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