It’s every host’s worst nightmare. Your significant other has invited the boss over for drinks and “just a few nibbles.” But there’s no need to panic! Hand them a cocktail—and pour yourself one, too—and then take 10 minutes to whip up an array of appetizers that look and taste as if you’d been in the kitchen for hours.
1. Prosciutto-Wrapped Bread Sticks
You can’t go wrong with this Italian staple: a slice of prosciutto wrapped around a crunchy, slim bread stick or a fresh, slender asparagus spear. If you don’t have prosciutto on hand, opt for any other high-quality variety of thinly sliced cured meat, such as ham or bresaola. Display this simple snack standing upright in a tall glass, making it the ultimate grab-and-go nibble for guests.
2. Pea Pesto
Fresh or frozen peas add a burst of flavor and color to any dish. For a quick-fix spread, combine 2 cups fresh (or 10 ounces frozen and thawed) peas with 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts in a blender. Turn on the blender and stream in enough olive oil to create a smooth purée. If you’re out of pine nuts, walnuts also work very well. Slather the creamy mixture on toasted baguette rounds or crackers and top with Parmesan shavings. We guarantee that adults and children alike will be reaching for this veggie-packed snack.
3. Marinated Olives
Olives are the first and best line of defense against hungry guests, as a small bowlful of this savory fruit will stall appetites as you finish up in the kitchen. Take it one step further by raiding your fridge to create a snack plate starring marinated olives in addition to roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, gherkins, sliced hearts of palm, pickled cocktail onions, marinated mushrooms, and any other bite-size, ready-to-eat items you have on hand.
4. Goat Cheese Bites
For these easy morsels, scoop portions of chèvre with a melon baller or a small spoon to form 1-inch balls. Gently shape the balls into smooth spheres and roll them in finely chopped fresh herbs, dried spices, or crushed nuts. The tangy cheese pairs well with chives, thyme, dill, black pepper, cumin, paprika, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. Once the balls are sufficiently coated, skewer them with a toothpick and stand back as they fly off the plate.
5. Salmon Roll-Ups
Smoked salmon is so much more than a bagel-topper, especially when rolled inside a delicate crêpe or flour tortilla. Spread your carb of choice with softened cream cheese, add a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and then scatter with chopped fresh chives, lemon zest, and a couple of slices of smoked salmon. Roll the crêpe or tortilla tightly into a log and slice it into 1- to 2-inch rounds for party-perfect bites.
6. Almond- and Blue Cheese-Stuffed Dates
Sweet meets savory in this classic duo featuring almond and blue cheese crumbles tucked inside pitted dates. Other stuffing ideas include pecans and Brie, hazelnuts and Pecorino, or pistachios and Feta. Helpful hint: As endless as the possibilities may seem, don’t forget to taste a new combination before its debut to ensure it has the right balance of sweetness and salty tang.