Category Archives: Appetizers

HUMMUS

Hummus has been a go-to food for centuries. The first written recipe for chickpeas and sesame was from 13th century Cairo. Variations have developed all around the Mediterranean and today there are innumerable recipes for hummus available on the internet.  Most of them include the basic four ingredients: chickpeas, sesame paste, garlic and lemon juice. This version includes a little vegetable broth to make it creamy. Hummus provides you with protein and a number of essential vitamin and minerals. Without the olive oil called for in many recipes, this one is lower in fat but still has all the flavor.

You can serve this as a dip with vegetables. You can thin it and use it as a sauce on vegetables. It is especially good and nutritious when served with whole wheat bread, tortillas, or pita. My husband likes it spread on whole wheat bread with roasted red peppers and grilled. The possibilities are endless.
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ORANGE SPICED NUTS

Especially good with a glass of something in the late afternoon or after dinner, these easy-to-make spiced nuts are better than anything available at the store. I  was inspired by Ina Garten’s take on spiced nuts and came up with the following recipe.  I like it with Harvest Legacy, an apple brandy blended with cider that is made by Swanson’s Mountain View Distillery in the Bitterroot Valley.  Look for something similar in your area.

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TOFU CREAM CHEESE

This versatile spread can be made either sweet or savory depending upon how you want to use it. I find I make it savory most of the time. I first made it to spread on an onion and seed bagel and it was great. Then I dropped a spoonful on top of pasta with a tomato sauce. It adds a cheesy, creamy flavor. With or without additional flavorings, it makes a good dip for cut-up vegetables. I have even added it to a tomato and olive pizza and in a calzone. I make some every week.

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ROMESCO – PEPPER AND TOMATO SAUCE

This flavorful combination of red peppers and Roma tomatoes with olives, almond butter, garlic and smoked paprika makes a sauce that  can be used in several ways. It can be put over pasta or vegetables. It can be added to a soup or stew when it is served. It can also be used as a pizza topping with some olives. It is also good for dipping cut-up vegetables.  We use olives and almond butter instead of the traditional  olive oil.

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FIG AND OLIVE TAPENADE

This wonderful tapenade of sweet figs,  savory olives and vinegary capers is an outstanding blend of sweet and sour/tart and it is hard to stop eating it. It is always a hit. Tapenade goes back to Roman times and can be made many different ways. This recipe featuring figs mixed with the olives and capers is one of my favorites.  There are many recipes for this Provencal dish, with or without the green olives and capers. Jacques Pepin adds the  green olives and capers to his, so I did too. In fact, the name tapenade comes from the Provencal word for capers. It is important to crush the rosemary and thyme if using home-dried and cook them with the figs because otherwise the herbs resemble miniature pieces of wood. Also, crushing releases fragrant oils.

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