You never know when the mood for a party will hit, and lazy summer days are perfect for hosting impromptu gatherings in the backyard. That's why it's always important to be prepared with plenty of drinks, cool snacks, and ingredients for crowd-pleasing appetizers.
Keep puff pastry stocked in your freezer and you can have fuss-free appetizers faster than you can say, "Oh, I wasn't expecting you. Thanks for dropping by!" Puff pastry appetizers look fancy and taste great, but let's be honest: an eight-year-old could make these tasty starters. So grab a kid, and start making these simple hors d'oeuvres!
Naturally, puff pastry is your base and star ingredient. Just select a cheese of your choice, add a fruit and/or vegetable, and top with a flavor booster like nuts, herbs, or a drizzle of sauce. These four key components ensure that your appetizer has the perfect balance of taste and texture.
Any cheese will work, but I tend to prefer soft cheeses that provide an even spread.
- cream cheese
- goat cheese
- Parmesan (while not a soft cheese, its "meltability" makes it good for this use)
Pick out one or two vegetables or fruits to layer on top of your puff pastry and cheese.
I made six unique appetizers by selecting an item or two from each of the lists above. The beauty of these easy starters is that you can make a bunch of them at once, with no need for individual batches. It's a multitasker's dream come true.
Spoon a thin layer of cream cheese over a sheet of puff pastry, add sliced jalapeños, fold, and bake. Drizzle with a little honey after they come out of the oven and devour. A little sweet, a little hot, and a whole lot delicious!
My husband calls these tasty bites "pizza bombs." Wrap puff pastry halfway around halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella before baking. Sprinkle shredded basil leaves and a balsamic reduction over the rounds when they come out of the oven. It's like a tiny, fresh pizza that looks like the Italian flag.
The combination of mint, cucumber, and feta will have you thinking you are on a Greek island. Bake your puff pastry ahead of time and add chunks of cucumber afterwards to avoid soggy dough. You can make individual molds with ease using mini muffin tins. Just serve with a shot of ouzo and your guests will be saying "Opa!" in no time.
If you obsess over ricotta toast like I do, this apricot and honey bite with ricotta will be your new favorite. The texture of warm baked apricot and honey resembles a jam consistency you won't be able to resist.
Combining savory cream cheese, green onion, and mushroom is a must. If you are really into onions (like me), top with more fresh scallions after the pastry comes out of the oven; the color contrast is really appealing.
Plump, juicy blueberries over ricotta-slathered puff pastry with a honey drizzle and toasted almonds will tantalize your taste buds. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The next time you are in a hurry and want delicious starters, grab a box of puff pastry, see what's in your garden or refrigerator, and get creative! Chances are you have everything you need for a party—just get some guests, and you're good to go!
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