It’s always nice to have a well-stocked pantry for unexpected guests, but especially during the holiday season. Just a few items in your pantry, fridge, and freezer will arm you with delicious and easy-to-prepare nibbles for anyone who happens to stop by. These are also great if you’re throwing a holiday cocktail party and don’t have much time to spend on food.
What to Keep on Hand
In the Pantry…
- Olive Tapenade — serve in a little bowl with a side of crackers or grilled bread, top baked chicken or fish, mix into Light cream cheese and serve with veggie crudite, mix with fresh chopped parsley or basil leaves and serve on crostini.
- Canned Garbanzo Beans — rinse and drain a can of these then toss with olive oil and coarse salt and roast at 425 for 15 minutes or until crispy. Add nuts, flaked salt, or chopped fresh herbs after roasting for extra flavor, like this. Or, turn into a veggie dip by mixing with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and veggie broth in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, Peppadew peppers, or mini pickles (cornichon / Gerkins) — plate any or all of these up with some salami and chunks of Parmesan cheese and you have yourself an Antipasto Platter.
In the fridge…
- Soft goat cheese — stuff into Peppadew peppers or cherry tomatoes, roll a log in chopped fresh herbs and serve with crackers, drizzle a chunk with honey and serve with crostini, or mix with chopped sundried tomatoes and stuff into chicken breasts or pork chops for an easy entree.
- Parmesan cheese (or another hard cheese) — break into small chunks and serve with salami and any of the marinated items mentioned above, or grate and melt over slices of baguette for crispy Parmesan toasts.
- Salami or Prosciutto — wrap around olives, dates stuffed with goat cheese, or slices of melon then hold together with a toothpick.
- Store-bought hummus or bean dip — serve with warmed pita bread, pita chips, cucumber slices, or carrot sticks. Or, spread a little on crostini and top with crumbled feta cheese and a fresh parsley leaf.
In the freezer…
- Baguette Slices — buy a couple baguettes and thinly slice them on a diagonal, then store the slices in freezer-safe plastic bags. Whenever you need crostini, pull out some slices and place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper and toast at 350 for 8 minutes.
- Peeled, De-veined Shrimp — Thaw these under running water, then bake at 400 for 2-3 min and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Or, skewer and marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, then grill for ~3 min and serve.
- Pre-made Cookie Dough — Either homemade or store-bought, make sure the dough is separated into cookie-size pieces before you freeze it, so you can just pull out the number of dough chunks you need, plop them on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes.