A Moroccan-inspired holiday hors d’oeuvre
The final month of the year has arrived, and with it an abundance of fresh, vibrant energy and seasonal cheer!
I love so many things about this time of year. As a mother, it is fun to see the joy and awe in my daughter’s eyes when we decorate the house with boughs of evergreen and sparkling lights. It’s also a time when I socialize, get out a little more, not something I actually love doing all that often (I’m quite the homebody). Enjoying the company of others just feels more stimulating for me around the holidays, and I do love the opportunity to catch up with old friends and family I may not have seen for a while.
But, as a chef, one of the biggest captivations for me around the holidays is the chance to explore creative, inspiring, and delicious concoctions I might not try at other times of the year. I make fun food gifts for my family, clients, and friends; I create edible works of art for holiday parties; and I am provided far more occasions to use expensive, unusual, and exquisite ingredients for my clients’ special, celebratory meals.
This time of year, holiday get-togethers abound. Whether you celebrate a religious holiday in December or not, chances are, you might enjoy at least a party or two before the end of the year.
With such social occasions in mind, I decided to start the month off right, with a tribute to those holiday get-togethers, and a recipe for an incredibly simple, yet outstandingly delicious, hors d’oeuvre.
This deceivingly uncomplicated bite-sized morsel takes mere minutes to prepare. But its layered elements of flavor complexity may see guests hovering over the serving platter.
I wanted to do something with pomegranate, since they are at their seasonal peak right now. Not only are they the most juicy and tasty right now, but they are also bright and festive. They remind me of Christmas ornaments, and the arils—the seeds—are like glistening gems, perfect for holiday festivities.
These little appetizer toasts are full of bright flavors and contrasting textures, all apparent in each bite, yet none competing. There are hints of salty, sweet, and tart, and the crunch of both the pomegranate seeds and the pistachios complement the creamy feta spread and avocado.
To top it off, almost all of the ingredients can be prepared in advance and arranged just before serving, a plus when trying to get ready for a party. And the vibrant colors and artful arrangement are flawlessly festive, making a beautiful addition to any holiday spread.
Whipped Feta Crostini with Avocado, Pomegranate, and Pistachios
Makes approximately 2 dozen hors d-oeuvres
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
1 baguette, sliced into 24 (or more) ¼-inch slices
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
Racked black pepper for feta and garnish
2-3 avocadoes, peeled and sliced horizontally
Seeds of 1-2 pomegranates, about ⅔ cup if already seeded.
About ׅa cup of pomegranate seeds, (or buy already seeded for even less effort)
½ cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
Your favorite, floral honey
- Prepare toasts: Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice baguette into ¼-inch thick slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until toasted and lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
- Prepare Whipped Feta: Place feta, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, orange zest, lime juice, and cracked pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl to incorporate everything. Set aside or refrigerate for later use.
- Prepare garnish: Remove seeds from pomegranate. Roughly chop pistachios. Set both aside or refrigerate for later use.Recipe can be prepared to this stage in advance.
- Assemble crostini: Scoop avocado from peel and slice thinly. Cut slices in half if large. Spread each toast with about a tablespoon of whipped feta spread. Drizzle sparingly with honey. Top each toast with a couple of avocado slices. Sprinkle each with approximately 1 teaspoon pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Top with coarse ground pepper. Arrange on a pretty platter and serve.
Image from Briana Goodall.