Easy, Elegant, Healthy Holiday Appetizers

If you are hosting a holiday gathering over the next week, or are slated up to helpfully bring an appetizer to one, you’re probably looking for the trifecta: easy, elegant and ideally healthy. Let’s face it: at this point in the holiday season, easy is simply a must, elegant would certainly be an ideal representation of yourself, and healthy to boot? While it might not be at the top of your list, with the other items that are likely gracing the menu, starting the festivities off on a healthy (but doesn’t taste like it) note could just be the best idea, and something to feel good about!

Here are three fantastic, tried-and-true ideas for you…ranging from super easy (as in, I often make without referencing the recipe) to 20 minutes – these will all be festive additions to your party!

bruschettaBruschetta with Arugula, Red Onions and Rosemary-White Bean Spread 

Cooks Illustrated
Serves 8

Tips: Toast the bread as close as possible to the time at which you plan to assemble the bruschetta. If you prefer, grill the bread. After trimming the ends, you should have 8 to l0 slices.


  • 1 loaf country bread , about 12 by 5 inches, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces, ends discarded
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic peeled
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans , rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic , crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 medium rcd onion , thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 ounces arugula (1 small bunch), washed, dried, and cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)

1. Adjust oven rack to about 4 inches from heating element and heat broiler; broil bread slices until golden brown on both sides. Brush both sides of each slice with oil and rub with garlic clove.

2. In food processor, process 2/3 of beans, 2 tablespoors oil, 2 tablespoons water, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add remaining beans and rosemary; pulse until incorporated but not smooth, about five 1-second pulses.

3. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, rcmaining l/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl; add onion and toss.

4. Divide bean spread arcnly among bread slices. Toss arugula with onions until coated, then top bread slices with portion of onions and arugula; serve immediately.

pancetta-crisps-sl-1673220-lPancetta Crisps With Goat Cheese and Pear

Southern Living

Serves 6

  • 12 thin slices pancetta (about 1/3 lb.)
  • 1 Bartlett pear
  • 1/2 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Honey
  • Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs


  1. Arrange pancetta slices in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 450° for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack using a spatula. Let stand 10 minutes or until crisp.
  3. Core pear with an apple corer. Cut pear crosswise into 12 thin rings. Arrange on a serving platter. Top evenly with pancetta and goat cheese; sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle with honey just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

fig-and-goat-cheese-1-updated1Almond and Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Turkey Bacon

Serves 12

  • 4 oz light goat cheese
  • 2 packages dried figs
  • 2 packages turkey bacon – preferably Applegate Naturals Uncured, All Natural, whole thigh meat (better for you, easier to wrap & cook)
  • Raw almonds
  • Toothpicks


Slice into each fig just slightly, take a tab (~1/4-1/2 tsp) goat cheese and put in the slit, followed by an almond. “Close” the fig a little to keep the contents inside. Roll the fig along the turkey bacon, wrapping it entirely, and secure with a toothpick.

Depending on time, either broil, flipping halfway through, or sauté until turkey bacon is cooked all the way around.


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