The french have definetly mastered the art of l'apéritif; some salty nibbly bits and a glass of wine in the sun before dinner, taking time to relax and chat before rushing to the table and diving into the main meal.
When I first arrived in France, I was always stumped on what to serve. I knew there would most likely be a cheese board after the meal, and bread would be served both during and after, so I wanted to keep things light and fresh to start things off. Plus, if you're having people over, you've already spent enough time prepping a meal and probably some dessert, so you've done your time in the kitchen and you deserve to kick back and relax with your guests.
Today I'm sharing with you my recipes for some of my favorite summertime nibblies that will be sure to please your guests. They are minimun effort, most can be kept in the fridge for a few days and need no fussing around before serving. Just dump or spread into bowls and bring to the table. Santé!
A Simple Summer Apéro
Fresh and simple is the way to go. Keep the flavors similar, lots of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. One or two of these together is probably enough, but I wanted to share with you all of my favorites. Never underestimate the power of fresh vegetables, cherry tomatoes, radishes and carrot sticks add color and crunch. Come summer time a little melon fits in quite nicely as well. Serves a small gathering. Vegan & Gluten Free.
Roasted Marinated Peppers
- 2 large bell peppers, color of choice
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
Turn your broiler on high and rub the peppers with a little olive oil. Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the rack positioned high so that the peppers are close to the broiler. As the peppers begin to blacken and blister, rotate so that each side gets a broil. When the whole pepper is charred and blistered, remove from oven and place in a bowl and cover (a large plate works well). Let the peppers cool down so that they are easier to handle. Gently peel off the skin, remove the seeds and cut into thin slices. Place in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving.
Lemon + Thyme Marinated Olives
I recently started marinating my own olives, it's easier on the budget and you have more control over the quality of ingredients. Get creative with herbs and flavors here. Rosemary, orange, balsamic, chili, the combinations are endless!
- 1 cup olives, mixed black and green, not pitted
- 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3-4 small sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
Place the olives in a bowl, juice over the lemon and add the olive oil. Chop the lemon into quarter slices and add to the olives. Add the garlic, fresh thyme and herbes de provence. Mix everything together and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 12 hours. Olives will keep in a sealed jar for a few weeks. Because of the nature of olive oil it will solidify when chilled, so remove olives from fridge 15-20 minutes before serving, and fish out garlic clove as well.
Artichoke and Herb Dip
I can hardly call this a recipe, it's embarrasingly easy but its been such a crowd pleaser and I've been asked for the recipe so many times, I had to share it here!
- 1 jar storebought artichoke hearts (in water)
- 1 handful mixed fresh herbs, basil and parsley are nice
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- Lemon zest
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Strain the artichoke hearts and add to a small blender with the rest of the ingredients, blend until combined but so that the dip still has a bit of texture. Season to taste and keep in fridge until ready to serve.
Sundried Tomato & Caraway Crackers
These are definetly the most labor intensive of the bunch, but the dough can be kept in the freezer and the baked crackers keep there crunch for a few days. Again, so many flavor options here, so go with something you like. Black olives work well in places of the sundried tomatoes too! Recipe tweaked from over here.
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds ( or dried oregano)
- 1/3 cup sundried toms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C . Combine flour, salt, baking powder, psyllium and caraway in a large bowl. Pulse sundried tomatoes and olive oil in small blender to make a paste and add to the flour along with 1/2 cup water. Bring the dough together with a fork or your fingers, it should form a ball quite easily. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Each half will make approx 15 crackers depending on the size and shape. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out the dough, the thinner the dough, the crispier your crackers will be. Cut or slice into whatever shapes you like, and place on a baking sheet. Brush each side with a little olive oil, and bake for 7-10 minutes or until crisp and brown, then flip and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Store in an air tight container for a few days.
Extras (last but definetly not least!)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Raw whole almonds
- Sliced melon
- Wine of choice
Bring everything to the table in bowls, poor some wine, kick back and relax! Hope you're all having a fun and healthy summer!