Love to entertain but maybe not so much to cook? Like to have a houseful of guests but not a sinkful of pots and pans? Small, easy to prepare appetizers can make parties a snap. Called “small plates” on restaurant menus, flavorful Mediterranean-inspired  appetizers are simple and tasty combinations of bold flavors.

Here are some savory tips to make beautiful, no-fuss holiday party fare:

Stock the pantry: Prep pantry shelves by stocking up on assorted jarred items like roasted red peppers, capers, pickles, pickled vegetables, sliced and whole pitted olives as well as tasty premade pestos or tomato based dips.


Make olives a centerpiece ingredient: Olives have the power to double as an essential part of the healthful Mediterranean diet, and be a party centerpiece. With pitted, seasoned, stuffed and jarred varieties, you have the makings of a festive, ready-to-serve party plate.

For a fast option, serve an assortment in a colorful bowl or small Mason jar. For guests’ ease, serve pitted olives, so they won’t have to worry about disposing the pits. For example, those from Pearls Specialties are available at Walmart, Target, Kroger and other grocery stores nationwide.

Say cheese: Pick up a selection of cheeses, choosing hard classic cheddars, feta, fresh mozzarella, soft aged cheeses such brie, as well as cream cheese.

Support your baker: Take the time to seek out a great local artisan baker for a wonderful crusty Italian ciabatta loaf, a seeded baguette, a whole grain dark rye or a tangy sourdough.

Use slices as a base to emulate trendy restaurants and cafes that serve “toasts” topped with flavorful combinations. In a pinch? Crackers work great too.

Go nuts: Combinations of crunchy pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews are delicious with everything. For a shortcut, get packaged candied or spiced blends.

Veg out: A trip to the produce aisle provides colorful inspiration and loads of tasty choices for an elegant veggie platter. Add fruits too. Sweet grapes and apples are a perfect complement to salty items.

Combine with dips, spreads, cheeses and olives. Dark, flavorful Kalamata olives are delicious combined this way and make a great base for a tapenade.

Just sticks, no stones: Use bamboo skewers for excellent presentation and make snacking easy on guests. Layer on whole, pitted olives, such as the large and meaty Pearls Garlic Stuffed Queen Olives, slices of mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, colorful bell pepper strips and chunks of your favorite salami. Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar onto your skewers before serving. If you prep them ahead of time, wrap them tightly and refrigerate.

Great drinks: On bartending duty? Garnish spicy or unusual gin or vodka martinis with Pearls Jalapeno Stuffed or Blue Cheese stuffed olives for a rich, surprising twist. Instead of a plain cocktail pick, use a sprig of fresh rosemary to skewer those olives.

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