Two of the appetizers we made were total standouts. They use just a few, simple ingredients, are put together quickly, and use roasting to transform the components.
First up, Smitten Kitchen's Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes. (Click on the link for the recipe.) This dish was scrumptious!
I could make a meal out of this by adding a simple tossed green salad, a baguette, and a glass of crisp, white wine.
On New Year's Eve, though, it was just one of a number of tasty things we ate. We inhaled a ridiculous number of Warm Rosemary Olives. I found the recipe in "Real Simple" magazine a few years back. It is stupidly simple to make and amazingly yummy. Heating the olives up with a few ingredients absolutely elevates them:
And it's very easy to make a half batch, or even a quarter batch, as we did.
Warm Rosemary Olives
(from "Real Simple" magazine)
hands-on time: 5 minutes/total time: 35 minutes
makes 6 cups, or enough for 30 guests
6 cups mixed olives, such as Niçoise, Spanish, Picholine, and Greek (we used Kalamata and garlic-stuffed green olives)
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I use perhaps half that amount for a full recipe. For the quarter-recipe, I used somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a teaspoon.)
Combine the olives, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in the center of 1 or 2 large sheets of aluminum foil. Fold the foil to enclose the olives in a pouch. (Recipe can be made to this point one day ahead. Refrigerate.) Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Note: Heating up olives with herbs and spices is an easy upgrade of a familiar party food, and it perfumes the house with a heady, exotic aroma.
(Just don't count on having any leftovers!)