Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer

When you think about appetizers, do you throw a bone to the healthy contingent and include some carrot sticks and hummus?  Is your conscience soothed by adding celery sticks to your Buffalo chicken dip?  Do you pick up a veggie tray at the store and call it good?

Are vegetable appetizers an afterthought?
I want to change that.

I'm on a quest to create awesome vegetable appetizers--ones that are demolished before the cocktail weenies or cheese balls, because they are just damn good.  I've got a Pinterest board, Awesome Veggie Apps and Snacks, and as I find new ways to turn vegetables into desirable appetizers I'm pinning them there.  Please leave suggestions in the comments so I can add them--thanks!

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Cherry tomato confit, cucumbers, banana peppers, artichoke hearts, olives and feta
Last winter, I started things off here with a Slow Cooker Salmon Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip and a Skillet Mushroom Dip for Two.  In the spring I started a craving for Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken (or Chick Pea) Dip that continues today.  Lately, I've been kinda dippy, with Fattoush Dip with Kale and Sumac Hummus and Indian-spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip.  Today I want to share another delicious way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your happy hour, cook out, tail gate, or indulgent dinner for one:  the Layered Summer Vegetable Appetizer.

While the autumnal equinox is weeks away here in North America, the mood has shifted to autumn.  The kids are in school, football marching band season is in full swing, and the sled hockey gear is back out. However, the garden and the farm share are packed with late summer vegetables--peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and squash are filling up my weekly box.  I created this layered appetizer to show off the best of late summer produce.

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Grilled red peppers, grilled red onion, grilled yellow squash, artichoke hearts and feta

Discerning readers will say "hey, that looks like the Fattoush Dip she posted 3 weeks ago" and you'd be correct.  Other clever followers will think "what, another Wednesday eggplant dip recipe?"  Right again.  However, I'm sharing this recipe now, not next summer, for a few reasons:
  • the base of this appetizer, roasted eggplant, is still very much in season and you might be looking for new ways to enjoy it
  • I think this is a party-worthy appetizer, and while I'm not hosting anything until Fall, you may be looking for new appetizer recipes
  • with the variety of special diets around, vegetables are a great way to create a dish that nearly everyone can enjoy

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer

NOTE:  I created this recipe to be gluten free through my choice of ingredients. Check labels to confirm that your products are also gluten free. Good sources for determining that your products are gluten free can be found here:

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer (serves 4, easily scaled up or down)

The base of all my creations is a Baba Ghanoush/Ghanouj, made from the recipe in Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables with only a slight variation (I left out the oil, pine nuts, parsley, and cayenne pepper).  The result is a creamy, mild dip that lends itself well to a variety of toppings, which I've shown in photos and suggest below.

2-3 medium sized eggplants
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (or bottled, if you run out)
1/3 cup (80 ml) tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-10 grinds black pepper

Topping suggestions:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped cucumber, or tomato, or bell pepper
1/2 to 1 cup grilled mushrooms, grilled squash,  grilled peppers, or grilled onions
1/4 to 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped olives
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup cherry tomato confit (Cathy's recipe here)
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup chopped banana peppers, or jalapeño peppers
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese
olive oil for dribbling (I didn't use any and didn't want/miss it)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stab the eggplant several times, and place on a rimmed baking sheet to roast for 30 minutes to an hour until soft (as shown--you can do this a day or two ahead if you've got the oven on).  In a food processor (or using your mad ninja knife skills) finely chop the garlic, then add the cooled eggplant flesh (leave the skins for the compost) and pulse to combine.  Add in the lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt and pepper, and process (or stir) into a smooth texture.  Chill for at least an hour--and this keeps for several days in the fridge.

Prepare your appetizer by spreading a plate with 1/2 to 1 cup of baba ghanoush.  Top with layers of vegetables, and cheese if you like.  Add a pinch of salt and or a few grinds of pepper, and/or a dribble of olive oil before serving, then serve with the dippers of your choice.  I'm partial to pita chips but I know not everyone is--Daikon radish rounds would be lovely here, or carrots, celery, corn chips . . . or a spoon.

Want more ideas for layered vegetable appetizers? Click on the photo to go to each recipe: Image Map

This post is shared with the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up, What's Cookin' Wednesday, What's In The BoxFrom the Farm Blog Hop,  the Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Food on Friday

Layered Summer Vegetable Appetizer
Grilled mushrooms, cucumber, banana peppers, artichoke hearts and feta


  1. I'd eat every one of these dips (and have eaten a version of the Fattoush Dip four or five times now...I'm losing track, and I don't really care). I love the emphasis on making veggie appetizers more than just the poor step-child, and I think this is completely fitting with football season on its way (or already here). This would make a great dip for Sunday games; not that I'd watch them, but I'd certainly eat this.

    1. Meghan,
      I'm delighted that I now have a visual of you watching football games.
      I'd love to see faces if I swapped this out for the Marching Tacos in the concession stand!
      If it's good for watching football, you know, perhaps it'd work?

  2. Wow, this sounds wonderful, healthy and delicious.

  3. I love this! I most definitely struggle with finding (and liking) healthy or at least nutritious appetizers. I'm generally all about the meat and cheese. This series is really awesome, I'll be taking notes. :)

    1. Julie,
      Taking notes? Ok, now I'm apprehensive. Ack! :)
      I'll be fine--vegetables are tasty, and all I want to do is let them shine.

  4. I do love homemade baba ghanoush, and make it often. Nice idea to top with such a great selection of veggies.

    1. Lydia,
      The eggplant just keeps coming in the farm share, so I'm having a good time playing around with this recipe.

  5. looking at all these yummy veggie dishes makes me hungry! :) My guy and I loved your 5 layer Med. Chicken and Eggplant is my absolute favorite veggie so looks like I'm going to have to make that too! (ps. I saw your comment about olives from Iraq, that sounds like one heck of a story)

    1. Abby,
      I don't think there's a good time to comment on food blogs as I always end up hungry, you know? I'm either ready for second breakfast or elevenses or I'm raiding the kitchen for a midnight snack. I'm sorry (no I'm not) for making you hungry.

  6. I really inspired by seeing seeing such a great post...keep posting these type of Articles for more info please go through shoutcast server hosting

  7. I'll never tire of new ways to eat eggplant. Looks delicious!

  8. looks like the perfect summer party food :)

    Thanks for sharing and linking up!

    1. Heather,
      I've roasted and frozen some eggplant to see if I can make at least the base of this in wintertime. Will keep you posted!
      Thanks for hosting!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...