E and I had guests this weekend, the first we’ve had since we moved in together (except my mom, but she helped me move so I was too tired to entertain, thanks mom, I love you, next time you come I can make this for you) and I really wanted to do something special but not too difficult. I put out these appetizer dishes inspired Spanish tapas and Mediterranean flavors. It was so easy to throw together it should be illegal. Everyone was impressed, though, and I got way more credit than I deserved.
I recommend you start with the chickpeas, stuff the figs while the chickpeas are cooking, and place the olives in a bowl while both the chickpeas and figs are cooking. And there you have it, an easy and impressive spread that you can prepare, cook, and clean up in less than 2 hours. All of these dishes can be served cold and prepared a day or two ahead of time.
Note: The book in the background of the featured image is Birds of Paradise, and if you only own one coffee table book, I recommend this one. And if you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for it, you can watch this video about the project of studying and documenting these birds.*
*I am not being paid or encouraged by National Geographic or anyone to promote this, the book just happened to be in the background of the picture, and since I think it’s a really great project I wanted to share it.
This dish was inspired by my time working in catering. They had these delicious goat-cheese stuffed figs (or dates? I can’t remember) that I thought were vegetarian. However, after working there for a few months and stuffing my face with more than a few leftovers, I found out they had prosciutto in them. Ahhhhh… Anyway, this vegetarian version is just as good.
Cook time: about 25 minutes
- Goat cheese
- Pecan or walnut pieces (optional)
- Honey (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil.
- Cut the stems off of the figs and then cut figs in half
- Put goat cheese on the open half of the figs . I recommend rolling the figs between your fingers to reduce the volume of the seeds inside the figs so the goat cheese can sink in a little more.
- Place figs, goat cheese side up, on a baking sheet and bake until the goat cheese is hot but not brown (about 10 minutes).
- Top each fig with a pecan or walnut piece.
- Plate the figs.
- Drizzle with honey if desired.
This recipe was inspired by a blog post I read over a year ago, I’m honestly not sure which one, and now I can’t seem to find it. Oh well, such are the ways of the internet. Anyway, since then this has been my go-to pot-luck recipe, and my friends often request that I bring some when they throw a soiree.
Total time to prepare: about 50 minutes + soaking overnight if using dried chickpeas
- 3 cups chickpeas (cooked or canned)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
- Prepare chickpeas. If using dried chickpeas use this method to cook them (note that it requires soaking overnight and about one hour of cook time). If using canned chickpeas, just rinse the them.
- In a bowl, toss chickpeas in olive oil, rosemary, lemon, and salt. Note that canned chickpeas are already salted so they will require very little, if any, extra salt. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil (optional, but makes cleanup waaaaay easier).
- Spread chickpeas evenly over the baking sheet in A SINGLE LAYER. If all of the chickpeas do not fit in a single layer, use another baking sheet. I recommend that the chickpeas touch each other, as this will make it easier to tell when they are done.
- Place baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake. After about 20 minutes, toss the chickpeas. When the chickpeas have shrunk and are no longer touching (about 45 minutes), they should be done.
- Allow to cool before serving.
Note: like the quick chickpea dinner recipe, these chickpeas can be seasoned however you like. There are lots of creative options on in the blogosphere, I encourage you to do a quick google search for inspiration.
Okay, so maybe I was having a little fun with the reflection here