Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: Two New Appetizers

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Two New Appetizers

For some reason I have a hard time coming up with interesting ideas for appetizers.  More often than not if guests offer to bring something to my house I will tell them bring an appetizer.  I think I focus so much on dinner and dessert that by the time I get around to the appetizers I'm spent.

So last weekend my husband and I decided to do an entire meal of just appetizers.  It was a lot of fun and really allowed me to focus my attention on this part of the meal. We made several recipes; all from Mario Batali's new book Molto Gusto.  Comprised of mostly small plate meals this book was perfect.

My two favorites of the night were the: Hot & Cold Summer Squash and Chickpeas with Leaks.  We served both bruschetta style.

Hot &Cold Summer Squash
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

5 Tbls olive oil
3 garlic cloves smashed
2 lbs zucchini or yellow squash sliced into 1/3 inch thick rounds (we cut the rounds in 1/2)
1/2 cup minced parsley
sea salt
2 Tbls grated orange zest
2-3 tsp hot pepper flakes
3/4 cup Pomi strained tomatoes, simmered until reduced by 1/2

Heat a 12 inch saute pan over medium heat until hot.  Add 2 tbls of oil then the garlic and saute for 1 minute or until golden brown.  Add 1/2 the zucchini and 1/2 the parsley, season with salt and saute until softened but not browned about 7 minutes.  Stir in 1 Tbls of the zest and 1/2 the pepper flakes. Transfer to a large bowl.  Proceed with the second batch.  When finished add to the first batch. 

Add the tomato sauce tot he zucchini and mix gently.  Add the remaining oil and mix gently.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour before serving.   (serve chilled or at room temperature)

Chickpeas with Leeks
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each) rinsed and drained
1 cup Leek Ragu (recipe below)
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
1-2 tsps red pepper flakes

Combine the chickpeas and leeks in a large bowl.  Add the oil and salt and red pepper to taste. Toss vigorously to combine.  (best served at room temperature)

Leek Ragu
(adapted from Molto Gusto)

1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves coarsley chopped
1 lb leeks trimmed and cut into 1/2 in thick slices
sea salt
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the leeks season with salt and pepper and cook until softened but not browned about 8-10 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook gently until leeks are soft about 15 minutes.  If necessary raise heat to cook of the rest of the liquid.  Taste the leeks and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.


  1. I just got this cookbook and have barely even cracked it open yet! I'm glad to see you liked I'll know what to make when I finally do. I have such a hard time coming up with appetizers as well. I usually go the dip and condiment route...hummus and guacamole!

  2. I also go the dip and chip route. I'm glad to see these different and nutritious appetizers. I would love to have a dinner party with just snack-like food. It allows so much more variety!

  3. I love all appetizer parties. Thank you for the great ideas - they look delicious and healthy. Perfect!

  4. What a fun idea! Love the chickpeas!

  5. These look really delicious! Thanks very much for the Zucchini and squash recipes! I have so many Zucchinis in my garden I don't even know what to do with them! haha ...let's just say I am trying MANY different Zucchini bread recipes to get rid of all the baseball bats in my sink.

  6. That zucchini recipe looks delicious! Bet it would be great with some nice crusty bread.