A have a rotation of truly delicious vegetarian appetizers that I go back to again and again. These tried-and-true crowd-pleasers and wow-eliciters range from an easy bowl of nuts to the special occasion savory stuffed mushrooms that recall the flavor of Thanksgiving stuffing (with none of the dryness).
1. Truffled Marcona Almonds: There is a magical place in Washington DC called The Columbia Room, a 10-seat private bar tucked into another bar called The Passenger. You have to walk through the narrow, hipster-filled, super causal Passenger to reach the Columbia Room, an elegant, calming space with an air of casual exclusivity. It is exclusive, in fact, because it’s reservation-only and costs $69 a person (for three drinks and some light snacks). A group of us went back in 2011 the night before Mr. Dame in Spain shipped off to Yemen. The three specialty-crafted cocktails I received knocked my sandals off, but the most enduring star of night was one of the little appetizers they served. Marcona almonds with truffle oil. So simple, so decadent, so aromatic, so tasty. I’ve been replicating them ever since. It’s easier on the wallet here in Spain because Marcona almonds are grown here, so they’re cheap. Unlike in the States where Whole Foods feels the need to set the price of these sweet and delicate nuts to match that of gold.
2. Truffled Deviled Eggs: I love deviled eggs. And I’d probably eat a truffled shoe, that’s how much I like truffle flavor. So how could this 1950s classic appetizer updated with a decadent umami twist not be spectacularly delicious?
4. Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms: This is my number one recipe. I’ve been perfecting these beauts since college. They are bursting with delicious mushroom flavor partly because of two “extras” I’ve incorporated: Rehydrated dry mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil at the end (clearly). They are still delicious without those special ingredients. I will say, this is a kind of labor-intensive recipe, so I tell myself I’ll save it for special occasions, but in reality, I make these all the time. Sometimes I have filling leftover and freeze it, so make my next batch of mushrooms much easier.
To whetting the appetite,
The Dame in Spain