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Holiday Appetizers: Small but Mighty

Give holiday appetizers a healthy spin with veggie-laden small plates that are big on nutrients as well as flavor

Recipes & Food Styling by Anna Hampton
Photographs by Helene Dujardin

Swiss Chard & Root Vegetable Fritters (Makes 20)

1 bunch Swiss chard, washed
1 small sweet potato, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
2 parsnips, peeled
1 golden beet, peeled
1 medium onion
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
Fresh herbs such as dill or cilantro, for garnish

Boil water in a medium pot. Separate the Swiss chard leaves and stems and roughly chop both. Add the stems to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute, then add the leaves and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Swiss chard to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain in a colander and press to wring out any extra water. 

Shred the sweet potato, carrot, parsnips, beet and onion using a box grater (or a food processor with a grater attachment) to yield about 5 cups. Wring out excess water from the vegetable mixture by squeezing it in a kitchen towel over the sink. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the flour, baking powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and stir to combine. 

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, drop 1/4-cup scoops of the vegetable mixture into the skillet, pressing down to flatten with a spatula and leaving 2 inches between each fritter. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the fritters from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate. Working in batches, repeat with the remaining vegetable oil and vegetable mixture. 

Before serving, rewarm fritters in a 300°F oven. Serve with coriander-spiced yogurt and fresh herbs such as dill or cilantro.

CHEF’S NOTE: For a snappy dip to serve alongside the fritters, mix together a half cup Greek yogurt with one tablespoon lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon each of ground coriander and chili sauce or sriracha.

Nutrition facts (per fritter): 73 calories, 4.5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 16mg cholesterol, 96mg sodium, 7g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 1.5g sugar, 1.5g protein

Turkey Lentil Meatballs with Spinach & Mushrooms (Makes 24)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked lentils
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup feta cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray, for cooking
1 (24-oz.) jar marinara sauce, for serving
Fresh herbs such as basil or parsley, for garnish

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt, and sauté until softened but not brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are browned, about 3 minutes more. Add the Italian seasoning and spinach, and continue cooking until the spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Mix together the lentils and the next 5 ingredients until just combined. Fold in the cooled mushroom and spinach mixture. 

Using a heaping tablespoon measure, form the meatballs and arrange on the prepared sheet tray. Lightly mist with an olive oil spray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until just cooked through. 

Serve the meatballs immediately with marinara sauce for dipping or toss them in marinara and keep them warm on the stove top or in a small slow cooker. 

CHEF’S NOTE: The meatballs can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for a month (simply thaw before reheating).

Nutrition facts (per meatball, without sauce): 62 calories, 2.5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 26mg cholesterol, 103mg sodium, 4g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 0.5g sugar, 6g protein

Charred Broccolini & Brussels Sprouts Crostini (Makes 24)

1 French baguette
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing bread
1 clove garlic
1 lemon
4 oz. goat cheese, softened
2 bunches broccolini
1 bag (about 1/2 lb.) Brussels sprouts
1 tsp. salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup toasted walnuts
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the baguette into 24 slices. Brush (or spray) each slice lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden brown but still soft in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rub each toasted baguette slice with the garlic clove. 

Zest the lemon and combine the zest with the softened goat cheese. Spread a layer of goat cheese on the warm baguette slices to warm the cheese. 

Cut the florets from the stems of the broccolini. Roughly chop the tender stems, leaving the florets whole. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.

Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. Toss the Brussels sprouts and broccolini stems with 2 tsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Roast in the skillet in a single layer, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 minutes. When the bottom layer has a nice char, toss and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a large bowl.

Toss the broccolini florets in the remaining olive oil, and repeat the cooking process in the cast-iron skillet for 5 to 6 minutes, until the florets are charred in spots. Place the florets on a cutting board and roughly chop, then add to the bowl with the Brussels sprouts.

Toss the vegetable mixture with the walnuts, juice from the lemon, vinegar, remaining salt and pepper. Top each crostini with the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

CHEF’S NOTE: The Brussels sprouts and broccolini can also be oven-roasted on a sheet pan at 425°F, tossing once, for 12 to 15 minutes.

Nutrition facts (per crostini): 43 calories, 2.5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 132mg sodium, 2.5g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein

Carrot Ginger Soup with Spiced Cashews (Serves 8-10)

2 Tbsp. sambal oelek (chili paste)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
4 tsp. coconut oil, divided
2 cups raw cashews
1 onion, diced
2 ½ lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup light coconut milk, plus more if needed
2 Tbsp. lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a half sheet tray with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the sambal oelek, maple syrup, and 1 tsp. coconut oil. Add the cashews and toss to combine. Spread the nuts evenly onto the sheet tray. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Set aside until ready to serve.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened but not browned.

Add the next 4 ingredients and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes. Season with the turmeric and salt, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until all of the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool for several minutes.

Using a high-speed blender or a handheld immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the coconut milk and blend again to combine. Add a little more coconut milk until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Stir in the lime juice.

Serve hot with spiced cashews. Optional: Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 141 calories, 6g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 392mg sodium, 19g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 10g sugar, 4.5g protein

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