Did you hear? There’s another celebration coming. That’s right… it’s time to ring in a new year.
For most, that celebration marks a turning from heavy dishes and sugar-laden treats of preceding holidays to lighter appetizers and fizzy cocktails. I’m a fan of that!
My favorite celebrations are those involving small bites. I consistently think in appetizers – How can I turn this into an appetizer?? That question swirls through my head with every dish I create.I feel certain this is in no small part due to the numerous ladies luncheons, wedding receptions, showers and cotillions of my youth. The finger sandwiches delicately cut into triangles and expertly arranged on silver trays, petit fours with silver dragées on top and the punch. Oh, my, how I adored those tiny cups filled with fruity pink concoctions! (Is this why I have 3 punch bowls?)
My first catering job revolved around celebrations just like those – it was heavenly, creating delectable nibbles for others to enjoy as they wed or welcomed a new baby or whatever the occasion happened to be.
Which got me thinking, nearly 20 years ago, there really does not need to be an official “occasion” for one to enjoy a small bite or two. Which is why I decided then and there, that one night each week for dinner, I would make a small appetizer buffet. It’s a fun time we still enjoy every week. (Twenty years of appetizers?? Yes!) And it’s no surprise, both my girls prefer a display of miniature foods over any other type meal.
Sometimes there are themes, other times we get very creative with what we have on hand. There are elegant displays, other nights the table is filled with edible whimsy. But no matter, we enjoy the simplicity and fun of Appetizer Evening. (It must have a name, you know.)
This Artichoke Purée is by far one of my favorite appetizers. In fact, it may be the easiest, healthiest and most delicious appetizer you make this New Year’s Eve.
Of course, if you aren’t a fan of artichokes, you’ll skip this one. But if you are, oh my, you will want to whip up this tasty bite right away! I recommend 2 batches – it’s simply that tasty.
However you enjoy it, here’s to a healthy, happy New Year!
- 1 (14- or 15-ounce, depending on brand you select) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed twice (to remove excess sodium)
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, roasted (See How to Roast Garlic). Use as much or as little as you like – remember, properly roasted garlic is sweet and buttery!)
- 2 Tablespoons dairy-free plain yogurt (or use your favorite dairy yogurt, Greek yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche)
- 1 – 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs (reduce amount by half if using dried herbs) of choice – Tarragon, chives, dill, etc. work well here.
- Place all ingredients except herbs in your food processor or blender.
- Pulse to process until mixture is smooth and creamy – until you reach the desired consistency (if you like a bit of texture in your dips, you will want to process less, before a true purée is achieved).
- Spoon mixture into serving bowl and stir in herbs.
- Finish with fresh ground black pepper, if desired.
- Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
- This purée is delicious cold or at room temperature.
- Makes about six 2-Tablespoon servings.
- This dish is extra special if you use fresh artichokes you’ve prepared. Try your hand at Roasting Artichokes and use the hearts from those – about 1 1/2 cups of cooked hearts – in this appetizer for the best flavor.