Ten Plant Based Appetizers to Make Your Way Through the Holidays

Ten Plant Based Appetizers to Make Your Way Through the Holidays

It’s that time of year again and if you’re like me, you’ve got party brain. Sure, I love the slowness and quiet magic of a cozy night (when I can steal them) ; flickering candles, warm spiced drinks, scents of cinnamon and clove, twinkling white lights, and all the comfort food – but the thing most anticipated is sharing these memories with the people I love. And without the stress of that hustle and bustle most popularly known for this time of year. The holidays can be full of all kinds of pressure. Everyone rushing from store to store in search of the perfect gift, a schedule booked with activities and trying to maintain the work required for the everyday. I get it, but I find myself so often yearning for slower more simple times. Where the best gifts were good and wholesome food, community and a warm gathering space. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but the world still spins and we’re still busy. So, I’ve put together a list of my favorite plant based appetizers to help bring a little more ease, peace and meaning to your holiday table.

Each recipe is full of flavor, nutrients and zero guilt. Because you should feel good about what you’re eating regardless of the season. And they’re so simple and quick to make, you may just want to appetize your way through the holidays- one small bite at a time.

Much love and warm wishes, from our table to yours.

guacamole with pomegranate seeds served with tortilla chips

1.) Guacamole with Pomegranate and Tomato Salsa

In Texas, it ain’t a party without the guacamole- and this is my favorite version, so be ready

What you need:

  • Juice of two limes.
  • 1/4 C finely diced white onion
  • 1 jalapeno- seeded and finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic-minced
  • 3 Avocados- skin and pit removed
  • A few pinches of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 handful cilantro-finely chopped with some reserved for salsa (about 1/4 C)
  • 1 Pomegranate- seeded and reserved (1/2 C)
  • About 1/2 C grape tomatoes- quartered

In a medium mixing bowl add the lime juice, onion, jalapeño and garlic to do a quick pickle while you mash the avocados in a separate mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, coriander and cilantro once it’s mashed to desired consistency and stir. Add the pickled mixture with the juice and stir again. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the pomegranate salsa- place the tomatoes, pomegranates and reserved and chopped cilantro in a bowl and toss together. Spoon over the guacamole and serve.

guacamole with pomegranate and tomato salsa

2.) Texas Tomatillo Salsa

This is something for everyone, for every occasion and for every corner of the universe.

What you need:

  • 8 fresh tomatillos- paper skins removed and quartered
  • 1 bunch of cilantro with stems-rinsed and dried
  • 4 cloves of garlic- skins removed
  • 1 jalapeno with or without ribs and seeds- depending on how much heat you want.
  • 1 white onion- roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • Juice of 3 small limes
  • Thick non-gmo corn tortilla chips salted with sea salt- for serving. We like El Milagro or Tia Rosa. Siete is also a great choice for a delicious and grain free option.

Place tomatillo quarters, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, chopped onion, salt, cumin and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until combined and slightly chunky. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat over medium low. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat once the color changes from a bright green to a deep hue. This takes about 10 minutes. Save in an airtight container with a lid and store in the fridge until ready to use.

*Can be made a day ahead. Serve with chips.

sweet potato chili cheese bites

3.) Sweet Potato Chili Cheese Bites (Vegetarian)

All the best from the southwest in one bite. Devour responsibly.

What you need:

  • 1 bag of Round Sweet Potato Chips
  • 1 Block of Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 1 can of Amy’s Vegan Black Bean Chili
  • About a Cup of Cultured Sour Cream
  • About 6 Thinly Sliced Radishes
  • 3-4 Thinly Sliced Jalapeños
  • 1/4 C Chopped Cilantro – for garnish
  • Your favorite hot sauce- we use Yellowbird’s Jalapeño

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Place chips in a thin layer on parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with a pinch of cheese and a TB of chili. Bake for about 12 minutes , or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Remove chips to a platter and begin to assemble by placing about 1/2 TB sour cream on top of the chili and one jalapeño and radish slice on top of the cream. Squeeze over about a tsp each of hot sauce and then finish with a sprinkle of cilantro. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

mini caprese skewers adorned in a plate

4.) Mini Caprese Skewers with a Pesto Dip & White Balsamic Reduction (Vegetarian)

Fresh, flavorful and festive. You’ll want to take two.

What you need:

  • 16 grape tomatoes
  • 16 mini mozzarella balls
  • 16 toothpicks

Simply skewer 1 tomato and 1 mozzarella ball onto each toothpick and then make the pesto.

For the pesto:

  • I C pine nuts
  • 4 oz basil- stems removed
  • 1/2 C parmigiano reggiano
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 C unfiltered olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spread over base of serving dish and then arrange ‘santa hats’ on top. Alternatively you could serve the dip on the side for your guests to self serve.

To make the balsamic reduction:

Place about 1/2 C white balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk occasionally until most of the liquid evaporates and thickens a bit. Turn off heat and allow to thicken more, but do not allow to cool all the way. Using a spoon, drizzle over the pesto and serve with the caprese skewers.

cranberry goat cheese and chive fried wonton in a platter

5.) Cranberry Goat Cheese and Chive Fried Wonton with Cilantro Mint Chutney (Vegetarian)

Probably the most dangerously delicious thing on the menu. An addictive crunch plus a sweet and creamy filling paired with a sweet and savory sauce. Proceed with caution.

What you need:

  • 25 Wonton Wrappers – store bought or homemade
  • Filtered Water- for sealing
  • Grapeseed oil- for frying
  • 8 oz cranberry goat cheese- can be found in the fine cheese section in the deli
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 small bunch of chives- finely chopped

To make the filling:

Add cranberry, goat cheese, cream cheese and chives to a stand mixer and beat together until combined. Separate the wonton wrappers into individual squares onto a flat surface. Spoon about 1 TB of the filling into the center of the wrappers. Dip the tip of your finger or a small basting brush into a shallow bowl of water and wipe or brush the water around the edges of the wonton. Then bring the opposite corners together two at a time and seal with a pinch. Once all four corners are pinched together like a teepee, seal any openings by pinching the sides together. This will keep any cheese from leaking out. In a large frying pan or dutch oven, fill the base with about an inch of oil. Heat over medium high and then drop the wontons in the oil and fry in batches on both sides. Once lightly browned all over, remove from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate to cool.

For the Cilantro Mint Chutney you’ll need:

  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 handful of fresh mint
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Juice of 2 small lemons
  • Small slice of ginger (about 1/2 an inch)
  • 2 TB unfiltered honey
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 2-3 TB Olive Oil

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Serve fried wontons on a platter with the dipping sauce on the side for guests to self serve.

cheese and grapes board

6.) Cheese Board (Vegetarian)

Party popular and doesn’t really require a ‘recipe’, but the power of the cheese board should never be underestimated or forgotten.

What you need:

  • 1 block Gruyere cheese cut into small cubes
  • 1 block Fontina cheese cut into small cubes
  • Rosemary crackers
  • Red and Green Grapes

Arrange on a large cheese board and serve.

cheddar apple bites

7.) Cheddar Apple Bites with Honey, Cinnamon and Cracked Black Pepper (Vegetarian)

These are so simple, but addicting. The tart sweetness of the apple pairs well with the sharp saltiness of the cheese, the honey and spice is just a nice bonus.

What you need:

  • 2-3 Pink Lady or Granny Smith Apples – cut into circles.
  • Squeeze of 1 lime over the apples and toss to coat.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese- thinly sliced and cut into small circles using a biscuit cutter.
  • Place on serving tray and drizzle with a tsp of honey on each circle, then sprinkle with cinnamon and black pepper.

herb and cheese stuffed mushrooms on a plate

8.) Herb and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (Vegetarian)

Savory with just the right amount of crunch. These will be gone in seconds, so you may want to make extra.

What you need:

  • 21 Baby Bella Mushrooms- cleaned, dried and stems removed
  • 1 Shallot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of mint
  • 1 handful of sage
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella
  • 1 C gluten free panko

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cleaned mushroom caps on parchment paper face down. Place all ingredients except the cheese and panko in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the shredded cheese and panko. Toss with your hands. Spoon filling into mushroom caps and press down slightly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned.

* Can be prepped and stored covered in the fridge a day ahead and baked just before serving.

gingerbread bliss balls on a plate

9.) Gingerbread Bliss Balls (Vegan)

These no bake gingerbread bites have merry written all over them. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves forever.

What you need:

  • 1 C pecans
  • 1 C walnuts
  • 1 C pitted dates
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/4 C cacao powder for rolling

In a food processor drop in the pecans and walnuts. Pulse into crumbs. Add the pitted dates, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and maple. Then blend until it comes together and is sticky to the touch. Using a mini ice cream scooper roll the mixture into balls and then roll into cacao powder. Freeze until ready to serve.

*Can be made a few days in advance.

avocado pudding garnished with pomegranate seeds in cups on a platter

10.) Avocado Pudding Cups with Maple Cashew Cream + Pomegranates and Mint (Vegan)

Anyone else grow up on chocolate and vanilla pudding packs? This is by far my favorite vegan dessert ever, no junking around.

What you need:

  • 3 pitted dates -or date syrup (which would be much easier to use and save on time)
  • 2 Ripe Avocados- skins removed and pitted
  • 1 TB Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
  • 1/4 C cacao powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 C pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C coconut milk- unsweetened

Place dates in food processor and blend into a smooth caramel. Add avocados, almond butter, cacao powder, sea salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla extract and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Store in airtight container in fridge until ready to serve.

For the cashew cream:

  • 1 C soaked cashews- soak for at least 2 hours and drain.
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 C filtered water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

For garnish:

  • 1 C pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 C chopped mint

To assemble. Spoon avocado pudding into small cups and layer with cashew cream. Garnish with pomegranate and mint. Serve chilled.

*Pudding and cream can be made and stored separately a day in advance. (Makes about 6 mini cups)


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