Are you appetizer challenged? Oh no! And this weekend appetizers are almost required!
A few weeks ago, we asked for your recipe requests (a Recipe Request Hotline!) We wanted to know what recipes you wanted from us and we got two requests for appetizers.
We loved those comments and we got some great requests—and would love to get more requests. We will keep answering those requests, so if you have a request, please let us know.
Back to appetizers. If you asked me a few years ago for a favorite appetizer, I might have frowned. I knew my appetizers were weak and a bit tired, and true confession, I was appetizer challenged. Then I started hosting an annual wine party and had to up my game. My mind and taste buds began to dream of appetizers all year long. I tried appetizers at restaurants, enjoyed happy hours and tasted dazzling appetizers at my friends. Suddenly, I was thinking appetizers all year long and I loved the result.
One favorite neighborhood restaurant serves an incredible appetizer of fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with a jalapeno-garlic aioli. It is wonderful. After several restaurant visits, I finally determined I had to make a similar dish at home. But darn, why did it have to be fried? Truth be told, frying is not my favorite kitchen task. Yes, I love the flavor, but sure don’t need the calories and hate the mess.
Roasting the veggies was my answer. Talk about healthy, easy and still really good. I now seem to be roasting all kinds of veggies and loving every bite. For the wine party, I roasted asparagus, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
I know there is a big football game on television this weekend. Are you partying? We are a football family and will be watching it all—the game, the commercials and the halftime. No, I am not hosting a party, but this game is an excuse to serve fun, finger food and eat by the television. Sure, it is an evening to have lots of dips, nachos, chili and such. But, roasted veggies with a dip are fun, too. And healthy. And easy to fix. So, why not? (I also love the leftovers and eat them for lunch or a side dish.)
Want to round out the menu with other appetizers? A few of my other favorites on our blog:
What’s the deal on roasted garlic? Roasting garlic makes it buttery and it has a mild, wonderful flavor. For this dip, it is especially good if you make the dip the day before. In a pinch, forget the roasting and finely minced some garlic.
So, kick off the fun and eat up!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno Dip
Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno Dip:
1 head garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
1 (5-ounce) carton nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and if large, cut in half
1 small to medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To Make the Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno Dip: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the tips off a garlic head, to expose the garlic cloves. Do not peel the garlic and do not separate the cloves. Place the garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and loosely fold the foil up and around the garlic. Place in a small baking pan. Bake 30 minutes or until the garlic is quite tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
When cool enough to handle, separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the papery skin. Using the tip of a knife, cut and mash the garlic until is nearly smooth. (It will measure about 1 tablespoon roasted garlic.)
Combine the roasted garlic with the jalapeno pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, yogurt and salt and pepper. For optimum flavor, cover and refrigerate the dip overnight.
Roasted vegetables: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
Toss the trimmed Brussels sprouts with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange Brussels sprouts on one prepared baking sheet.
Toss the cauliflower florets with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange cauliflower on the second baking sheet.
Bake vegetables, uncovered, about 20 to 30 minutes or until just fork tender.
Serve vegetables warm, or at room temperature, with dip.
Makes about 1 cup dip; serve 6 to 8.
If time is really short, omit roasting the garlic. Finely mince 2 to 3 cloves garlic and proceed as recipe directs, blending fresh garlic into yogurt and mayonnaise mixture. Roasting garlic makes the garlic buttery in texture and milder in flavor so use just 2 to 3 cloves when using fresh, instead of the whole head.
Brussels sprouts are especially good if roasted until the leaves are caramelized and just begin to darken. One easy way to do that is to roast them in the cast iron skillet. Preheat the skillet with the oven. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the oil, then place in the hot skillet in the oven. Roast until they are tender.