Whether you are having a formal dinner party or just a casual meal, it's important to start things off right. Fine cheeses and store-bought delicacies are delicious but expensive, especially when there are a lot of mouths to feed. Cheapism.com rounded up some inexpensive appetizers that are just as tasty, offering everything from light and healthy treats to indulgent classics.
15 Tasty Appetizers for Less
This fancy appetizer is good for casual get-togethers or formal five-course meals. An 8-ounce pack of white buttons mushrooms ($2) yields about two servings. Cut the caps and sauté with half an onion, one clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried herbs such as oregano, rosemary, and thyme (50 cents). Mix in a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs and a quarter cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese (25 cents) and stuff the mushrooms. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are browned and the caps are softened.
An American classic, it's hard to find anyone who doesn't love potato skins. This simple recipe combines classic russets ($2.40) with bacon ($3), cheddar cheese (50 cents), sour cream (50 cents), salt, pepper, butter, and chives ($1). Because they are so rich, figure that each person will have two or three pieces; serves six to eight people.
A classic appetizer and party food, quesadillas are easy to make. Simply heat a flour tortilla (50 cents) in a hot pan and layer with low moisture shredded cheese (50 cents); cover with another tortilla (50 cents) and cover the pan until the cheese is melted and the bottom tortilla is slightly blistered. Serve with salsa and sour cream (50 cents).
Endives seem expensive at around $1.50 a head, but when you cut off each leaf to use as an edible boat, one head yields about 10 pieces, plenty for two servings. Fill each endive leaf with a simple combination of chopped shallot, cucumber, and red bell pepper (75 cents) tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and wine vinegar (25 cents). This tangy and refreshing appetizer works well as a light complement to richer appetizers.
With a little oil and salt, 30 cents of corn kernels becomes a big bowl of popcorn. Spice things up with seasoning, such as chili salt, worm salt (a Mexican spice made from ground worms and peppers), smoked salt, or seaweed salt.
media:text>These sophisticated tarts are easy to prepare. Thinly slice two medium zucchinis, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper ($1.50). Roll out and cut frozen puff pastry ($3.75) into small squares. Place rounds of zucchini in the center of each tart in concentric circles, pricking the edges of the pastry with a fork. Sprinkle a quarter cup of parmesan cheese (25 cents) and bake in a 350-degree oven until the pastry is golden brown. Serves six to eight.
For the flavors of a classic Greek salad on a stick, cut a bell pepper and a red onion ($1.25) into bite sized pieces and place on skewers with halved cherry tomatoes ($1) and a small chunk of feta ($1.20). Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and a sprinkle of dried oregano.
A pack of 30 corn tortillas costs about $1 and yields 180 chips, more than enough for 10 people. Fry in peanut oil ($1.50), drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. For the salsa, quickly pulse five large tomatoes, three jalapenos, and two onions ($6.50) in a food processor. Add the juice of two limes, a handful of cilantro, and a pinch of salt (75 cents) for a delicious pico de gallo salsa.
Dried chickpeas cost about 40 cents per cooked cup. Combine cooked chickpeas with a few tablespoons of tahini, water, lemon juice, and salt ($1) until thick and creamy. Serve with pita chips ($1) for a healthy appetizer.
Dried beans taste better, offer more nutrition, and cost less, but even if you use beans from a can ($1), white bean dip is a delicious and inexpensive dish. Combine drained beans in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one lemon, sea salt, and fresh or dried herbs such as oregano or thyme ($1). Let the dip chill in the fridge for at least eight hours. Serve with toast rounds ($2) for a hearty starting course.
This dip is quick and easy, and serves four to six. Combine three quarters of a cup of mayonnaise with an equal amount of sour cream ($1); stir in a pinch of salt, freshly grated black pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a handful of chopped fresh dill or tablespoon of dried dill ($1). Serve with cut peeled carrots, celery, and bell pepper strips ($2).
A comforting classic, this recipe takes a childhood favorite and updates it with high quality ingredients. One baguette yields about eight servings. Cut a baguette ($1.50) in half and slice into four equal quarters, top with your favorite marinara sauce ($1) and slices of fresh mozzarella ($6). Bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt (25 cents) just before serving.
Transform these humble and inexpensive root vegetables into an irresistible Italian party food. Boil four large beets ($3) until fully cooked, remove the skins, and dice finely. Dress with olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley ($1). Slice and toast sourdough bread ($4) and top with the beet mixture. Yields 10 to 12 servings.
This crowd favorite goes fast. First, roll out ready-to-bake crescent roll dough ($3.75) and cut into triangular pieces. Then roll mini hot dogs ($7) in the dough and bake in a 350-degree oven until the dough is golden brown. Serve with whole-grain or honey mustard ($1.25). Serves six to eight people.
This old-fashioned delicacy takes a bit more time and labor, but it's light on the wallet. Gently boil a dozen eggs ($2), then carefully slice in half, reserving the whites and yolks separately. Add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise to the yolks, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and chopped chives ($1.50). Spoon the mixture into the egg white halves, sprinkle with paprika, and let chill for a few hours before serving.