Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Holiday Appetizers
For every holiday party I've been invited to, the host instructions are to bring "an appetizer or dessert." As much as I love baking, I prefer to bring the former. There are always plenty of sweets at a holiday gathering, but no guarantee that there will be meatless pre-dinner snacks. If I bring one or two vegetarian appetizers, it guarantees that I'm able to snack while I'm mingling and if dinner happens to be a whole bunch of ham and prime rib, then at least I can continue to nibble on my own apps.
The best bring-to-a-party appetizers are those that pack well so they won't get all mangled in your travels and that can be made ahead -- don't count on being able to do a lot of last-minute prep or assembly at the party. If you're bringing a hot dip or something that needs to be cooked (even re-heated) before serving, check with the host to make sure you'll have access to the stove, oven or microwave.
The Best Vegetarian Holiday Appetizers to Bring to a Party
Hummus: Hummus may be the quintessential vegetarian food, but it's adored by meat-eaters as of late (maybe because you can buy it in stores in millions of different flavors and we're all pretty used to it by now?) so bringing hummus to a party isn't a faux pas (like say, bringing packaged veggie burgers to a cook-out). Make it ahead of time and pack it in a container you won't mind forgetting at the party, and bring lots of crudite and pita chips for serving. Go traditional with the old-fashioned kind, made with canned chickpeas whizzed up in the food processor for a few minutes, or fancy it up a bit with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked paprika, use white beans instead of chickpeas (for a change of pace or because you're out of chickpeas) or make a lighter-but-still-super-creamy version with Greek yogurt and artichoke hearts.
Deviled Eggs: Everyone loves deviled eggs, whether they choose to admit it or not. Make them at home and pack them in one of those cute little deviled egg carriers if you're headed straight to a party, or if you're arriving long before the appetizers will be served, make the deviled filling and pack it separately and stuff the eggs before you serve them. Deviled egg best bet: Alton's 4-Pepper Deviled Eggs (above) or Nadia's Truffle Deviled Eggs.
Crostini: Prep the toppings at home and bring the bread along; assemble the toasts at the party and broil or bake just before serving. (Make sure you ask about using the oven ahead of time or you won't be invited back next year.) If you're really looking to impress, make it two appetizers in one. Make two different toppings and top half of the bread with one and half with the other. Fill your tray with Giada's Sweet Pepper Crostini plus the unexpected flavor combination of Bal's Crostini With Spiced Chevre.
Hot Dip: Spinach-artichoke dip is the ultimate crowd-pleaser, whether you go meatless or not. Alton's super-easy hot spinach dip is made in the microwave so you can mix it all together at home and microwave it just before serving. But if you're over spinach-artichoke or just looking for something a little different this year, try the Beekman Boys' Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Dip or Kelsey's Roasted Artichoke Dip.