There are many occasions on which we are given the opportunity to “bring a dish to pass.” In the summer there are backyard barbecues, open houses, pool parties, picnics and other venues for showing off a homemade creation (if one is a happy cook) or plunking onto the serving table a plastic tub of potato salad or a container of hummus from the grocery store along with a bag of pita chips. Its food either way, but whenever possible I like to show my family and friends that I took a little time to think about what they might enjoy, and to prepare it for them.
This week, Rob and I are invited to a “no kids” party hosted by friends who are, themselves, vegetarians. We are invited to bring an appetizer or a salad, and I’ve been thinking about what I can make that is vegetarian, relatively light, and will not require heating right before serving. Also, because there won’t be children at the party, I do not have to consider the “eeew, what’s that?” factor.
Here are two possibilities that meet all of my requirements, and that are really not much harder than buying a tub of hummus. Really! For the Salsa, if you are in a real hurry, you can get the chopped green pepper and chopped onion at the salad bar in your grocery store; then you have nothing to do but open cans, assemble and chill! I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, and have made it several times with great success.
Spicy Bean Salsa
(Note: Needs to be refrigerated overnight, so plan ahead)
- 1 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 ounce can whole kernel corn,drained
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I use a sweet onion, and have also used chopped green onions)
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 4 ounce can diced jalapeno peppers
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (I use the kind with Mexican seasoning, but you don’t have to)
- 1 cup Italian dressing
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
In a medium bowl, combine black-eyes peas, black beans, corn, onion, green pepper, jalapenos and tomatoes. Add Italian dressing and garlic salt, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. Serve with hearty, good quality tortilla chips.
The next recipe is a little more complicated, but well worth it. It is also based on a recipe found on allrecipes.com. Although “Bruschetta” in Italy generally means nothing more complicated than toasted bread with olive oil and garlic, more toppings are certainly permissible, and seem to be popular on this side of the Atlantic. If you have kitchen scissors you can make easy work of cutting up the fresh herbs.
Ali’s Amazing Bruschetta
- 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (it should go without saying that if you can get tomatoes that are fresh, it will make this taste infinitely better. If not, see if you can find “tomatoes on the vine” in the produce department – they are a little better than other hothouse specimens).
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (I like some garlic flavor in this, so I often use garlic oil sold for dipping bread that is already infused with garlic)
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano (please use fresh oregano)
- 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh basil (You know what I’m going to say…)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1 inch slices
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (grate from a block of Parmesan if you can. Pre-shredded cheese is acceptable but the grated stuff in the green canister is not).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, olive oil, oregano, basil and parsley. Place bread on baking sheet and top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottom of bread is browned. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving. (This is fine at room temperature, so you can take it from the oven, arrange it on a plate and take it to a party without worry).