From Z to A: 3 Fresh Appetizers for Your Next Spring Gathering

I don’t know about you, but I love a good appetizer party — sometimes even more than a dinner party. You get so many more choices of foods when they’re all bite-sized. I think that’s the same reason I love side dishes during Thanksgiving more than the actual turkey sometimes. (Don’t judge me!) 

With that in mind, I wanted to share some quick and easy appetizers you can make when you are hosting people like me, or if you’re invited to a gathering where you’ve got to provide an appetizer, too.


Roasted Grape and Thyme Crostini


  • 2-3 cups red or purple grapes (washed)

  • 1/2 cup goat cheese

  • 30 baguette slices

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

  • 7-8 sprigs of thyme

  • olive oil for garnish

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • optional: balsamic vinegar reduction for garnish


  1. Wash and dry grapes. Coat with olive oil, thyme leaves and garlic. Place in baking pan and in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees (or until grapes have burst and juices begin to caramelize).

  2. Butter both sides of baguette slices and toast slightly in a pan.

  3. Spread goat cheese onto the baguettes, add roasted grapes on top. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

  4. Drizzle tops with olive oil and balsamic reduction (optional).


Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Pastries


  • 1 package frozen puff pastry dough

  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (chopped up)

  • 1/4 cup pesto

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

  • 1 tsp. garlic paste

  • Italian seasoning to taste


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

  2. Unroll dough onto sheet and spread pesto and garlic paste over dough to within 1/4 inch of edges. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, seasonings and tomatoes. 

  3. Starting with the short side, roll up tightly, pinching edges to seal. Cut into 12 slices and place on cookie sheet. (Another option is to leave pastry open as a full sheet and cut after baking.)

  4. Bake for 16 -18 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack and serve warm.


Mushrooms With Caramelized Onion Polenta Bites


  • 2 packages mushrooms, chopped 

  • 4-6 tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 6-7 sprigs thyme

  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced

  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 small onions, sliced

  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal

  • 2 cups broth (or water) 

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • optional: 1 cup of cheese of your choice

  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, over medium high heat, melt butter and add in garlic and thyme. Stir until fragrant, then add in the chopped mushrooms. Cook until all the released liquids evaporate. Once finished, set aside.

  2. While mushrooms are cooking, caramelize onions by heating olive oil over medium low heat. Add in thinly sliced onions and cook on low heat until all the released liquid evaporates and onions start to brown. Stir frequently and set aside. 

  3. In a deep pot, add in the 2 cups water or broth and the 2 cups of milk and allow to come to a simmer. Once it does, get a whisk and slowly add in the cornmeal white stirring rapidly. Mix until fully incorporated. Add in salt and pepper to taste. 

  4. Cover and allow to simmer on lowest heat for 7-10 minutes. Add in heavy cream and any optional cheese, then pour into a large rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool.

  5. Once the cornmeal has cooled completely and solidified, either cut bite-sized squares or small circles and place on a platter.

  6. To create the appetizers, add a small spoonful of the onions on top of each polenta cake and top with a spoonful of the mushroom mixture.

  7. Serve as is or garnish with grated parmesan.


From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit.

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