Holiday appetizer sanity

Everyone has so much on their minds during the month of December. Sometimes having one more thing to do, in addition to the many things you are already juggling, can send you right over the edge. Chances are this time of year "one more thing" will come in the form of an appetizer you are responsible for bringing to a party or two during the holidays. You may think your only relief is to buy something pre-made.

But my enthusiasm for home-cooked foods runs rampant and I want to give you the relief you need with these two recipes. Neither will take much of your time and you will be able to say you made them yourself.

The first you prepare from start to finish and it goes together quickly. For the second, you cheat a little by beginning with a pre-made food and personalize it by adding just a few key ingredients.

For the Pistachio Parmesan Crostini you start by thinly slicing your favorite loaf of fresh baguette bread. Then, finely chop pistachios and fold them into mayonnaise along with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped green onions.

To assemble, simply spread each baguette slice with the pistachio mixture and heat under the broiler until lightly browned and bubbly. These are excellent served hot or at room temperature.

Hummus dip is universally liked but can become a wall flower depending on how many times you have seen it at a party. A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn this recipe from a Lebanese friend of mine. It is an alternative to the typical way of serving hummus. To save time, I encourage you to purchase your favorite hummus (unless of course you want to make it from scratch).

To prepare, you put the hummus in a serving bowl, top with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with minced fresh parsley. My friend served it with her favorite tortilla chips, but I am including a recipe here for herbed pita bread wedges that are easy to make and give the appetizer a more homemade touch.

Linda Burner Augustine is a freelance cooking teacher, food writer and consultant who lives in Madison Park. She can be reached at

Pistachio Parmesan Crostini

Makes about 26-30 crostini

1 cup mayonnaise (light mayonnaise can be substituted)

2/3 cup finely chopped, salted pistachios

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup minced green onions

1 baguette, thinly sliced into about 26-30 slices

Stir together mayonnaise, pistachios, Parmesan and green onions. Spread about 1 Tablespoon mixture evenly over each baguette slice and place in single layer on baking sheet.

Heat under pre-heated broiler until bubbly and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.

Maya's Hummus with Olive Oil and Parsley

Serves about 8-12 as an appetizer

16 ounces prepared hummus dip

1/2 - 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 packages (5 pitas each) whole wheat or white pita bread or 1 bag tortilla chips

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

Kosher salt, to taste

Put hummus in serving bowl; pour 1/2 - 2/3 cup olive oil evenly over top; sprinkle with parsley.

Cut each pita bread into 8 wedges. Put in bowl; drizzle olive oil evenly over wedges and sprinkle with basil and salt; toss to coat evenly; transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 375 Fahrenheit for 5 minutes; turn pita wedges over. Continue baking until light golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cooling to room temperature.

To serve, put hummus bowl on center of serving platter; arrange toasted herb pita wedges or tortilla chips around dip.[[In-content Ad]]