The holidays are here – full of joy, friends and family, celebration and parties! It’s time to search for creative ways to entertain and come up with new ideas for party nibbles and small bites to serve with drinks.
Incorporating nuts into the menu has a number of benefits –they pair wonderfully with wine, they offer a multitude of flavors, and they add a heathy dose of nutrients often lacking in party food. So put out some bowls of mixed nuts, or go a step further and try some of these great ideas:
Cheese Platter – Nuts and cheese are nothing new – we’ve even done a whole blog on the topic. Think of a ball of goat cheese crusted in roasted chopped nuts and fresh herbs, or honey and walnuts drizzled over Manchego. Or, some camembert cheese baked in oiled ramekins with a splash of whisky, and some chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350° oven. It’s delicious spooned onto flatbread crackers.
Bruschetta – Mushrooms are in season. Imagine a bruschetta with burrata or ricotta cheese and braised mushrooms, such as chanterelles, with a crumbling of roasted walnuts, pine nuts or Brazil nuts and fresh oregano or thyme.
Flavored Nuts – Whether sweet or hot, adding a delicious, flavored crust to nuts enables you to craft your own party nibble. We have a multitude of ideas for ways to season nuts in our recipe column, or use your own inspiration by adding your favorite herbs and spices. (They also make a great party gift bag for guests to take home).
Mini Pizzas – Turn our pistachio and zucchini pizza into pizza bites or use any nuts of choice. Simply cut small discs out of your pizza dough with a cookie cutter before putting on the topping and bake as usual.
Chicken and Shrimp Skewers – A real crowd pleaser, simply thread strips of chicken or a few raw shrimp onto soaked bamboo skewers, brush with some sesame oil and soy sauce, then serve with a nut sauce for dipping. Blend together nuts such as cashews, macadamias, almonds or hazelnuts with a squeeze of lime juice, soy, ginger and mirin (rice wine) or rice vinegar, adding enough liquid to make a dipping consistency.
Nut-stuffed Olives – You’ll often see almonds in olives in market olive bars, but you can really put any nut inside an olive. Make it even more special by finely dicing the nuts, adding goat cheese with some herbs or garlic and gently piping this mixture into the olives.
Chocolate Slabs – There’s always room for sweets on your party table and making your own chocolate slabs is a fun way to surprise guests with your creativity. Try chili flakes with dark chocolate and roasted almonds; salt, milk chocolate and pistachios; honey, white chocolate and walnuts, or fresh rosemary and hazelnuts on a mixed swirl of chocolates. Simply line a baking tray with parchment, pour over with melted chocolate and scatter with nuts and seasoning of choice. They go wonderfully with a glass of red wine or sparkling! Or if cocktails are the event, mix a little liqueur such as brandy or Cointreau into the chocolate.
Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy holiday season!