Visits we plan with friends and family might just be the best part of the holidays - as long as we’re not overwhelmed by the stress of entertaining. So keep it simple. Just slice a loaf of bread, says Tom Gumpel, head baker at Panera Bread®. Fresh bread makes the perfect base for a variety of delicious appetizers that are both easy to make and easy to serve.2011-12-01
Bread appetizers also allow your creativity to shine through. “A slice of white baguette is like a white canvas,” says Tom. “You give 10 different artists a white canvas, and they will come up with 10 completely different paintings. The same is true of our breads. They become the canvas for myriad flavor profiles.”
To get you started, we’ve gathered eight unique ideas. Just keep the ingredients for your favorites (these or your own ideas) on hand for last-minute preparation. And remember: For appetizers, you want baguette-size pieces, so slice larger loaves into quarters or halves, if needed.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese. Top toasted slices of a French Baguette with a layer of reduced-fat vegetable cream cheese, smoked salmon, sun-dried tomato strips, and capers.
French Bread Margherita Pizza. Start with a loaf of French bread, cut in half lengthwise. Spread it with tomato sauce, fresh basil, sliced Roma tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella cheese. (See the full recipe here.)
Baked Brie with Fruit. Spoon 2 tablespoons of your favorite jam onto a wheel of Brie, and top with a handful of candied nuts. Bake until the Brie is soft. Serve with toasted bread or bagels.
Avocado Crostini. Layer French baguette slices with fresh guacamole, goat cheese, and grape tomatoes. (See the full recipe here.)
Tomato and Roasted Pepper Bruschetta. Combine 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, one seeded and chopped tomato, 1/2 cup chopped roasted pepper, 1/2 small red onion (chopped), 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper in a bowl. Spoon the mixture over toasted slices of a French baguette.
Shrimp and Crab Crostini. Top slices of sourdough bread with Shrimp and Crab Roll filling, which takes just minutes to prepare.
Pork and Pickled Vegetables. Cover a toasted slice of honey wheat bread with shredded cooked pork and a spoonful of pickled vegetables - try green tomatoes or chow chow. Serve warm or chilled. You can also substitute shredded leftover turkey or chicken for the pork.
Peanut Butter Sundae Crostini. Toast slices of white whole grain bread and spread with peanut butter. Then serve with small dishes of sweet toppings like honey, thinly sliced apple or banana, jam, chocolate syrup, and miniature chocolate chips. Kids will love to assemble these.