Are you ever faced with bringing something along to a dinner and being perplexed with what you should make? Worry not – it happens to everyone! In fact, I scoured my roster of recipes to think of something appropriate for a dinner this past weekend. Eric and I were invited to a fellow runner’s place for a homemade pizza dinner. The night before, Wally, the organizer of the Winnipeg Frontrunners, connected with us to see if we could bring along an appetizer. Knowing we’d be indulging in cheesy and meaty pizza, I wanted to bring something lighter and dare I say – healthy!
I opted to bring two selections: Olive & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese & Veggie Morsels. These are variations on a theme – but did a quick job of finishing up a healthy sized log of goat cheese. In fact, both are quick and simple to make with staple pantry and fridge items.
Both appetizers fit the bill of satisfying pre-dinner hunger while not being too heavy or filling before the pizza was served. The olive-speckled goat cheese in the tomatoes had just the right amount of briny flavour to match the hollowed out tomato shell. The veggie crackers were very fresh tasting thanks to a light sprinkling of julienned spring onions and fresh cracked pepper. I would sprinkle a bit of smoked or sea salt on the crackers the next time around – however, I tend to lean on the salty side when cooking so maybe I should exercise caution.
Considering we are very early in January, this was the perfect mix of vegetables for an appetizer that was enough of a departure from veggies and dip. And frankly, we all love stuffed food! From deviled eggs and cabbage rolls to manicotti and ravioli, we feel special eating something that took effort.
Olive & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
- 24 cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint)
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green olives
- 1 tablespoon low-fat milk
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each tomato. Trim a sliver off the stem-side so the tomato sits flat. Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a small knife.
- Mash goat cheese, olives, milk and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Fill each hollowed tomato with a generous 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with oregano and more pepper, if desired.
HINT: Use a 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon measure to core the tomatoes. Also, a sandwich or small Ziplock bag with a snipped corner works best to fill tomatoes. It is no mess and easy to aim into the bottom when filling the whole tomato.
Goat Cheese & Veggie Morsels
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon Basil-flavoured extra virgin olive oil
- 24 small whole-wheat crackers
- 2 tablespoons very finely chopped carrot
- 2 tablespoons very finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon very thinly sliced scallion greens
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Bring goat cheese to room temperature and add the olive oil to make a richer and smoother spreading goat cheese.
- Combine carrot and bell pepper in a small bowl. Press about 1 teaspoon of the vegetable mixture into the cheese on each cracker. Top with a bit of scallion greens and sprinkle with pepper.
NOTE: Depending on type of crackers, add a sprinkle a bit of sea salt to enhance the toppings.