We got a little carried away with appetizers this year. All of these were served with an array of toasted sourdough bread, pita chips, and various crackers.

Beet Hummus
Not precisely hummus, but possibly even more delicious. My favorite of these recipes, and can also be made without the almonds without losing tastiness.


* 1 large (8-ounce) beet, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
* 1 cup drained canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas; from 15 1/2-ounce can)
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for chips
* 1/4 cup slivered almonds
* 5 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 1/2 tablespoons (or more) red wine vinegar

Cook beet in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain; place in processor. Add garbanzo beans, 3/4 cup oil, almonds, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and blend well. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar, if desired. Transfer dip to medium bowl. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Salmon and Caper Bean Dip
Not sure where this is from, but it’s delicious.


* 1 can white beans
* 3-4 oz. smoked salmon
* 2 tbsp cream cheese
* 1 tbsp dill
* 1 tbsp salted capers
* 2 tsp lemon juice
* 1 tbsp olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Chopping up the dill first is recommended if you’re using fresh herbs.

Cheddar, Red Pepper, and Horseradish Spread
We actually made this with crumbled bacon instead of red peppers, because we didn’t have any. Logical substitution, right? I’m going to make it the proper way when I get home, though, and it’s probably delicious with both.


* 1/2 lb finely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (2 1/4 cups)
* 1 bottle roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained, patted dry, and finely chopped
* 1/3 cup mayonnaise
* 1 rounded tablespoon drained bottled horseradish
* 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together with a fork.

Sardine “Tonnato” Spread I’m not a huge fan of sardines, but this was delicious. I recommend a sturdy bread or herb cracker. No picture of this one, but it was a nicer color than you’d expect sardines to produce.

* 2 (3 3/4-oz) cans brisling sardines packed in olive oil, drained
* 1/4 cup mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 teaspoons drained bottled capers, chopped
* 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon salt

Mash together all ingredients in a bowl with a fork until combined well.

Next up: breads and what to do with them when you accidentally triple the salt content.

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