4 guilt-free party appetizers

Impress your guests with healthy party fare by whipping up these four delicious appetizers that are both festive and guilt-free

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Vegetarian Vietnamese Fresh Rolls

Vegetarian Vietnamese Fresh Rolls

This is almost a two?for-one recipe; the fresh rolls are wonderful all on their own but the leftover marinade creates the perfect dipping sauce.

Dressing:
2 tbsp soy sauce   
2 tbsp sweet Asian chili sauce   
1?2 tsp toasted sesame oil   
1?2 tsp rice vinegar
1?2 tsp minced garlic   
1?2 tsp finely chopped pickled ginger   
1?4 tsp minced gingerroot

Filling:
2 cups shredded baby bok choy   
3?4 cup julienned blanched asparagus       
3?4 cup julienned peeled carrots   
1?2 cup julienned English cucumber   
1?4 cup julienned mango   
1?4 cup finely chopped toasted peanuts   
8 10-inch rice paper wrappers 
3 cups hot water   

Dressing:
In a bowl, combine soy sauce, chili sauce, oil, vinegar, garlic, pickled ginger and minced ginger.

Filling: In another bowl, combine bok choy, asparagus, carrots, cucumber, mango and peanuts. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) dressing and toss well. Divide into 8 equal portions.

Working with one rice paper at a time, submerse in hot water until pliable, about 30 seconds. Place on a work surface. Spread one-portion of the vegetable mixture in a strip across the lettuce leaf about one-third away from the edge closest to you, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on either side.

Fold the edge closest to you over the filling and pull gently toward you to encase the filling. Fold the sides toward the middle, then continue to roll up tightly. Place rolls under a damp cloth to stay moist because the wrappers tend to dry out quickly. Serve rolls immediately with dipping sauce, if using, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Serve whole or for a small hors d'oeuvre, cut in half on the diagonal and place on a serving platter.

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Mango-Spiked Salmon Ceviche

Mango-Spiked Salmon Ceviche

Because it is made from a cold water fish, this is not a traditional ceviche but it is delicious nonetheless. Serve it on tostadas, tortilla chips, plain crackers or even crisp lettuce leaves such as hearts of romaine. If you're offering larger servings, think about spooning it into chilled martini glasses and passing forks or small spoons.

Ingredients:

(Makes about 3 cups)
8 oz skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1?4-inch dice
1?4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.)   
1 cup diced mango (1 small)   
1 cup diced avocado   
2 green onions, white part with a bit of green, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced  
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves   
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil   
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a serving bowl, combine salmon and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until opaque, about 15 minutes.

Add mango, avocado, onions, jalapeño, cilantro and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve cold.

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Mango-Spiked Salmon Ceviche

Mango-Spiked Salmon Ceviche

Because it is made from a cold water fish, this is not a traditional ceviche but it is delicious nonetheless. Serve it on tostadas, tortilla chips, plain crackers or even crisp lettuce leaves such as hearts of romaine. If you're offering larger servings, think about spooning it into chilled martini glasses and passing forks or small spoons.

Ingredients:

(Makes about 3 cups)
8 oz skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1?4-inch dice
1?4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.)   
1 cup diced mango (1 small)   
1 cup diced avocado   
2 green onions, white part with a bit of green, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced  
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves   
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil   
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a serving bowl, combine salmon and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until opaque, about 15 minutes.

Add mango, avocado, onions, jalapeño, cilantro and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve cold.

4 / 5
Pancetta-Wrapped Scallops

Pancetta-Wrapped Scallops

The secret to making these is to ensure that you have enough pancetta to moisten and flavour the scallops but not so much that you overwhelm their rich but delicate flavour. Pancetta can be salty, so after the scallops are cooked add a good dash of lemon juice for balance.

Depending upon your source, sliced pancetta varies in thickness. If your pancetta is very thinly sliced (as it should be) you'll need about half a slice for each scallop.

Ingredients:

Sea scallops, halved, if necessary (you want the scallops to be as close to bite-size as possible)
Thinly sliced pancetta, about 1?2 slice per bite-size scallop
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Finely chopped chives

Preheat barbecue and soak wooden skewers (short 3-inch wooden skewers would work well here).

Wrap scallops in pancetta and spear crosswise with skewers (so white top of scallop is facing up). Grill, turning once, until pancetta begins to crisp and scallop is just firm and opaque, about 5 minutes.

Remove from grill. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.

5 / 5
Smoked Chicken-Stuffed Yellow Pepper

Smoked Chicken-Stuffed Yellow Pepper

This makes a perfect hand-held appetizer. The sweetness of the yellow pepper contrasts with the smoked chicken beautifully.

Tip: For this recipe, your hands are your best tools to arrange the ingredients on the pepper strips.

Ingredients:

1 cup coarsely chopped smoked chicken   
1 tbsp finely chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomato
1 tbsp finely diced red onion   
1 tbsp mayonnaise   
1 tsp Dijon mustard   
1 yellow bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 8 strips
1 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley leaves   

In a bowl, combine chicken, sun-dried tomato, onion, mayonnaise and mustard and mix well to combine. Place pepper strips on a platter with natural curve facing up. Arrange chicken mixture on top, dividing equally.

Garnish with parsley and serve. To make ahead, assemble, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours ahead and garnish with parsley just before serving.

All photos by Colin Erricson