By now you might’ve figured out that we at PetitePlatesDC (myself included) love small plates. It’s also not a surprise that we are a group on a budget – living the grad school life.
If you are in a similar financial situation or just like saving a few bucks, we feel your pain (no really, we do) but you don’t have to miss out on the great taste of tapas or the fresh, crisp flavors of mezze if you’re on a budget – just make your own! There’s literally nothing you can’t create with a trip to the grocery store and an hour in the kitchen.
So, I’ve collected a few recipes that are easy to make and delicious to eat – by yourself or with friends!
The first place I start when looking for recipes is Pinterest. It’s seemingly a never-ending resource for any kind of recipe you could think of, and it links to other sites where you can find more recipes. Sometimes I pretend to pass off the recipe as my own, but don’t tell anyone 😉
Small plates of all types usually include a big helping of veggies. They’re usually simple dishes that can be portioned out quickly depending on the number of people you’re feeding – even if it’s just for one person (you)
1 baguette (cut into slices)
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup of EVOO
2 plum tomatoes cut into slices
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment or tinfoil (make sure it’s non-stick) Toss tomato slices with oil, herbs and salt and pepper. Arrange tomatoes in single layer on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until tomatoes are slightly shriveled.
2) When tomatoes are almost done, preheat grill or grill pan to medium high. Rub bread with garlic cloves and brush with EVOO (more or less depending on your preference) Grill until crisp, about 1 minute per side.
3) Top bread with dried tomatoes and garish with more salt, pepper and thyme if desired.
Super easy, right? Now on to one that’s a little more work
(another recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)
2 or 3 medium sized zucchini
2 lemons (one for 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest, the other cut into wedges)
1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
10 sprigs fresh leaf parsley (I just use the prepackaged kind)
1) Grate zucchini into a medium bowl. Add salt & pepper, lemon zest, chopped parsley, garlic and eggs. Mix until combined. Add flour slowly, stirring so no lumps form.
2) Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat until pan is hot. Carefully drop about 2 tablespoons of zucchini mixture into pan – repeat, making sure to space fritters a few inches apart.
3) Cook fritters until they’re golden, about 2 to 3 minutes each side. Cook remaining fritters – add more oil to the pan if needed. Garish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs (optional)
Meat & Seafood Dishes
Still pretty simple right? Not all small plates are veggies, but the two recipes above will get your started thinking of creative ways to use some of your favorite foods. But if you want to make your small plate feast a bit more well rounded – check out the meat and seafood recipes that are almost as easy to accomplish. This next recipe makes my mouth water every time.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
(variation of recipe from Rachael Ray)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk or water
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 pound lean ground sirloin (you could use regular ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken – whatever you’re in the mood for)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large eggs
4 ounces mozzarella cheese (cut into 20 cubes)
1) Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, soak breadcrumbs in milk.
2) Combine beef (or whatever meat you’re using), chopped garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg and 1 teaspoon salt. Add it to the soaked bread crumbs and stir with fork until combined.
3) Place about 2 tablespoons of mixture in your hand and press a mozzarella cube into the center. Should look something like this:
4) Shape meat around cheese, forming a ball. Repeat for the rest of the meat. You can size the meatballs however you want.
5) Put meatballs onto baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them, depending on your oven and the size of your meatballs – it could take more or less time.
These meatballs can be added to a plate of spaghetti or used as a small plate all their own – they’re that good!
Lastly, an easy recipe for those who love shrimp:
Shrimp with Garlic Sauce
(variation of Food&Wine recipe)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled
Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1) In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, bay leaf and red-pepper flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes, stir occasionally.
2) Add shrimp and salt & pepper to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are done – about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice & parsley. Transfer to a bowl or plate and serve.
It really is that easy to start making your own small plates & tapas at home. Try out these recipes and then add on or subtract some ingredients to fit any tastes for any occasion. Got a delicious, simple small plate recipe? Tweet it to us @petiteplatesdc or like us on our Facebook page.