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5 Appetizers That Make the Perfect Prelude to Christmas Dinner

A family toasting wine glasses over Christmas dinner.
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Christmas dinner is an event most of us look forward to every year. From succulent turkey and tender ham to mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, there are so many flavors to delight the senses. If you’re hosting this year, tempt everyone with one of these delicious appetizers while they wait for that turkey to get done.

Shaved Carrot Salad with Tahini Pesto Dressing

Somoene peeling a carrot with a potato peeler.
Yakov Oskanov/Shutterstock.com

The often-adorned carrot makes a great addition to any dinner, no matter how they’re prepared. This holiday season, instead of roasting and glazing them, toss them on a salad, and let them open everyone’s palate prior to the fabulous main course.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Lbs. of carrots
  • 1/4 Cup of tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon of black sesame seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • A handful of basil
  • A pinch of salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Using a potato peeler, slice your carrots into ribbons.
  2. Put them in a bowl with room-temperature water, add a few drops of lemon, and then set aside.
  3. Add pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, basil, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper to a food processor and pulse until well-combined. You might need to stop a few times and scrape the sides to make everything smooth.
  4. Drain the carrots and put them in a large bowl.
  5. Pour dressing over salad and toss until well-coated.
  6. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve.

Asparagus and Bacon Triangles

Four filo pastry triangles on a cutting board with salt and pepper sprinkled on top.
AS Food studio

A delicious savory treat right before the main event is the perfect way to keep your guests happy. These delicious little triangles will have them wondering what ingredients you put inside, and how they can re-create it at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch of asparagus
  • 1 Pack of bacon strips (any brand you prefer)
  • 1/2 Cup of ricotta or mascarpone cheese
  • 1 Package of filo pastry
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 Egg yolks for egg wash
  • 2 Tablespoons of milk (plant-based is fine, if you prefer) for egg wash

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. In a pan, fry off the asparagus with salt and black pepper for a few minutes, careful not to let them wilt.
  4. Remove from heat and cut into small pieces.
  5. Cut bacon into small pieces.
  6. Toss the asparagus and bacon in a bowl, add ricotta cheese, and then mix through.
  7. Prepare filo dough by cutting one sheet of it into three strips, lengthwise.
  8. Brush one strip with egg wash, and then place 1 tablespoon of filling in one corner of the pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Be sure not to overfill the triangles or they will split.
  9. Lift pastry corner with filling and fold tightly, diagonally to create a triangle. Continue folding, always retaining triangle shape.
  10. Transfer to the baking tray and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with remaining filling and ingredients.
  11. Brush the rest with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  12. Take out and serve right away.

Pink Hummus

Pink beet hummus dip on a plate, surrounded by pita bread, a bowl of salad greens, and a bowl of olives.
zarzamora/Shutterstock.com

A perfect thing for your guests to snack on while they mingle is pink hummus on pita bread or crackers. This recipe might even get chickpea haters to dip again and again, as the other flavors take over.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 Cup of tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 Cup of cooked red beets
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon of black sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour out on a serving plate, and then spread in a circle with a spoon, while slowly turning the plate.
  3. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve with veggies, pita bread, crackers, or anything else you like to dip in hummus.

Grilled Beets and Burrata Salad

Sliced beets on a cutting board.
Africa Studio

Another delicious salad to enjoy while sipping a Christmas aperitif is this combination of grilled beets and fresh burrata cheese. It’s bound to make your guests fall instantly in love. Plus, it’s so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been serving it every year.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Large golden beets
  • 2 Burrata balls
  • 1/2 Cup of granola
  • 2 Tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Head of radicchio
  • A handful of arugula salad

Instructions:

  1. Cut the beets into thin disks.
  2. Grill them in a pan until caramelized on both sides (around 10 minutes), and then set aside to cool.
  3. On a large serving platter, tear the radicchio leaves and use them as a base, and then toss the arugula on top.
  4. Add the beets.
  5. Cut the burrata balls open and add them. They’ll start to melt when they touch the warm beets.
  6. Sprinkle granola and sun-dried tomatoes on top.
  7. Drizzle aged balsamic on top and serve.

Sweet Potato, Avocado, and Pomegranate Canapes

Sliced sweet potatoes on a wooden table.
AtlasStudio/Shutterstock.com

Sweet potato, avocado, and pomegranate bites are just what the doctor ordered to start your Christmas dinner off on a delicious note. They’re also incredibly easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sweet potatoes, cut into one-inch disks
  • 2 Avocados, mashed
  • 1 Green tomatillo
  • A handful of cilantro
  • 1/4 Red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 Cup of pomegranate seeds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place sweet potato disks on a baking tray lined with parchment.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until completely done.
  4. Put tomatillo and cilantro in a food processor and pulse until small chunks form.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix the avocados and onion, and then add the tomatillo/cilantro mix.
  6. Drizzle with lime juice, add salt and black pepper, and then mix well.
  7. Fold in pomegranate seeds.
  8. Using the sweet potato disks as a base, assemble your canapes.
  9. Add 1-2 tablespoons of guacamole/pomegranate mix on top.
  10. Serve while sweet potatoes are still warm.

A unique and delicious appetizer can elevate any gathering, but Christmas dinner is extra-special. Any of these five recipes is sure to spread even more joy around your holiday table this year.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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