Want to serve your favorite salad as an appetizer but don't want people walking around balancing a fork and knife? Or scanning the room for a place to stash a used toothpick? Almost any food can be transformed to appetizer-ready individual portions with a few tricks.
Here are a few edible vehicles for serving appetizers. Your food will look more sophisticated and you'll reduce the waste generated by paper cups and toothpicks (hold off on eliminating napkins, however!).
• Endive Leaves - A small, firm leaf of endive works as an edible cup for salad, hummus, and even guacamole. Try filling with fresh cut roasted corn for a deconstructed version of grilled Mexican corn!
• Crackers and Toasts (or Potato Chips!) - These are no-brainers, but still a great tip. Cheeses, spreads, and dips - these can all bring out the herd mentality in hungry guests and keep them pooled around the serving tray. Pre-assemble a dollop of cheese on a cracker (or potato chips!) and your guests will be more likely to mingle. Putting these together in advance also allows you to add a garnish like fig jam or a few chives.
• Natural Stems and Cups - There are plenty of foods that don't need a toothpick and can be easily handled in their natural state. Try roasted shishito peppers, stuffed jalapenos, cucumber cups, and dressed up potato skins.
• Phyllo Cups - Want to serve a soufflé or other baked dish? Pre-formed phyllo cups (or even ones you make yourself) are ideal for savory or sweet baked puddings, soufflés, and fritattas. These also work well for desserts like mousse, ice cream, and fruit salad.
How do you serve bite-sized appetizers?
(Images: John Kernick/Gourmet; Michael Natkin/Serious Eats)