There’s nothing quite like a crowd pleasing appetizer to offer at a gathering or bring to a party. A quick and easy idea is to create a delicious spread with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of spice. By placing the spread in the middle of a platter loaded with colorful vegetables, crunchy crostini and salty olives - it’s the perfect dish for a party. Everyone can grab exactly what they want, and there is no fuss! Not to mention, a spread like this can be made a few days in advance and can handle sitting out on the table for a few hours. For this variation, I am teaming up with Amy’s (whom I just love!) to bring you a black bean spread. Talk about an effective shortcut, I start this recipe off with their refried black beans, which are already loaded with flavor. Then I doctor them up with additions like caramelized garlic, fresh lime juice, cumin and smoked paprika. Yum! Feel free to push and pull this recipe to your liking: instead of using garlic, try minced shallots. Instead of using smoked paprika, try sweet paprika. A pinch of curry powder? Sure! Freshly chopped oregano or cilantro would be a lovely addition as well. Once the dip is surrounded by an array of delicious dipping options, you’ve got yourself a lovely holiday appetizer.
Black Bean Spread
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
2 cans Amy’s Refried Black Beans
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to drizzle
2 - 3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Add the beans to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Squeeze on the lime juice and add the onion powder and garlic powder. Mix well and set aside.
2. Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet and bring to medium heat, stirring every so often with a spatula. Cook for a good 5 to 6 minutes until the garlic becomes soft and golden. Lower the heat just a tad and add the oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika. Continue to stir and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Once your kitchen smells outrageous and the garlic is fully caramelized, transfer to the bowl of beans and scrape every last drop out.
3. Mix everything together vigorously. Give it a taste and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to your liking. Transfer to a pretty bowl and garnish with a dusting of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.
You can use any assortment of vegetables, such as carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans and bell peppers. If you are going to add a crunchy green vegetable, like green beans, asparagus or broccoli florets, I suggest that you lightly steam or pour boiling water on them and then rinse with cold water. This gets rid of that chalky raw taste and makes them more enjoyable.
A fun option as well are thinly sliced apples and crunchy crostini or any kind of cracker. I also love using olives and other pickled vegetables, from the olive bar, like artichoke hearts and baby peppers, for a variety of color and texture. Salted and roasted Marcona almonds also pair beautifully with this dip. If you’ve never made crostini, here’s a super simple recipe.
1 good baguette
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the baguette into ½ inch thick slices. Drizzle some olive oil onto a small plate. Press one side of a bread slice into the oil until coated.
2. Place the slice oil side up on the baking sheet and repeat this until all the slices are coated. Sprinkle with sea salt and nutritional yeast and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
The whole point of a vegetable platter like this is to have fun and make it gorgeous! Think lots of color and enticing textures. I definitely recommend hitting up your local farmers market for unique produce and fresh herbs to garnish.
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