By Barbara Beltrami
As June winds down, parties rev up to celebrate graduations, weddings, showers, reunions and everything in between. While hors d’oeuvres from supermarket and warehouse freezers are wonderful and handy, on a hot day nobody really wants to be stuck sliding trays in and out of an oven while everybody else is playing Marco Polo in the pool. Chips with salsa or guacamole may be the default munchies, but, because they are just that, they’re not fare for special occasions. Here are two recipes for hors d’oeuvres that are special but easy to put together and sure to please your guests. Each has at least one popular ingredient and makes a festive presentation as well as a delicious nibble. Picture bruschette with fresh tomatoes and arugula, ham rolls with melon and radishes and endive leaves stuffed with herbed goat cheese.
Bruschette with Fresh Tomatoes and Arugula
This is the go-to hors d’oeuvre with or without the arugula in many parts of Italy. It is pronounced “broo-skeh-tay.”
YIELD: Makes 12 bruschette
2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
12 basil leaves, chopped
Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 fresh arugula leaves
12 slices crusty Italian bread
3 garlic cloves, peeled
DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Place mixture in a strainer or colander and let stand at room temperature at least one hour to drain remaining juices. Place back in bowl, add olive oil and mix thoroughly. Preheat broiler, grill or oven. Toast bread until lightly browned and crisp on both sides, 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat temperature. Remove from heat and immediately rub each slice with garlic clove. Heap tomato mixture onto bread and place an arugula leaf on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chilled light and dry white wine, prosecco, iced tea, lemonade, beer, cocktails or sparkling water with lemon or lime.
Ham Rolls with Melon and Radishes
This is a takeoff on the ever popular melon and prosciutto. The saltiness of the ham, the sweetness of the melon and the crispness and heat of the radishes complement each other.
YIELD: Makes 18 rolls
18 very thin slices Virginia or Black Forest ham or prosciutto
18 half-inch-thick sticks cantaloupe or honeydew melon
2/3 cup shredded or finely chopped radishes
½ cup chopped basil
DIRECTIONS: On a tray, platter or board, lay out the ham slices, a few at a time. Place a melon stick at one edge of each slice, sprinkle with radishes and basil and roll tightly, starting at filled edge. If necessary insert one or two toothpicks to hold each roll together. Stack on plate or platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with beer, cocktails, rose or Beaujolais wine, sangria, iced tea, lemonade or flavored sparkling water.
Endive Leaves Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs
This hors d’oeuvre is good in all seasons but especially in the summer when herbs are freshly picked and have intense flavors.
YIELD: Makes 18 to 24 pieces
One 3- or 4-ounce log plain goat cheese, softened
3 to 4 ounces whipped cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons cream or milk
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Tear or cut the endive leaves from the head; wash and dry. Arrange on platter. In a medium bowl, beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, cream, herbs and salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly among leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with chilled dry white wine, cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, white sangria or chilled sparkling water with lemon or lime.