Paul Finkelstein’s simple appetizers

These easy nibbles are perfect for drop-in guests’and more formal gatherings

Paul Finkelstein's simple appetizers

Source: Best Health Magazine, November/December 2009; photography by Edward Pond

With the cold winds starting to blow, nothing warms me more than an evening at home with friends, family and good food. My wife, Amanda, and I love to entertain. We always keep the ingredients for easy appetizers on hand for the drop-in guests and impromptu get-togethers that inevitably happen at this time of year, because the key to stress-free entertaining is to keep it simple.

This is an exciting time of year for us at Northwestern Secondary School in Stratford, Ont., where I teach. My students and I are busy preparing delicious variations of our Screaming Avocado Café menu items for the many catering jobs we do. I like catering with my students because it gives me the opportunity to teach them that healthy and impressive appetizers don’t have to be complicated.

Click here to get the recipes for some of our favourites:

Sun-dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Lemony Shrimp Gambas
Kid-Friendly Turkey Sausage Rolls with Mango Chutney

Have these on hand

Here’s what I like to have in my kitchen to make these dishes and a variety of other quick and healthy appetizers:

‘ 1 jar roasted red peppers
‘ 1 jar or can artichokes
‘ 1 jar or bag sun-dried tomatoes
‘ 1 can jalapeño peppers
‘ 1 jar sweet mango chutney (great on sandwiches, too!)
‘ Extra-virgin olive oil
‘ Balsamic vinegar
‘ Crackers and/or baguette
‘ Frozen jumbo shrimp
‘ Goat cheese (buy peppered or  herbed, or add your own spices)
‘ Fresh herbs for garnish (cilantro, basil, mint and parsley are good choices)
‘ Frozen phyllo pastry

Photo: Paul Finkelstein and some of his students prepare the easy bruchetta recipe to serve in his school’s Screaming Avocado Café.

This article was originally titled "Simple crowd pleasers," in the November/December 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.