A Bite Inspired by… Spring Entertaining:
Throwing a spring party? If not, this recipe will definitely inspire you to plan one! It’s the perfect, beautiful party appetizer that will really impress your guests! Pickled grapes add great flavor and are so easy to make—they’ll be your new go-to for a pop of brightness! One of the most difficult parts of throwing a party is trying to satisfy everyone’s dietary needs. Problem solved! This recipe includes instructions on how to make this dish gluten-free, vegan, or both, so you can make everybody happy without additional effort on your part. Now, you can play the perfect host or hostess with less effort, so you’re free to enjoy the party!
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Spring is the perfect time to entertain! The sun’s out, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are chirping (they want to get in on the party too!) There’s something about it that just lifts your spirits and inspires you to get together with friends and celebrate! No more hiding in your house during the cold, snowy winters—it’s time to get out and enjoy the sun! In most areas, spring weather is great for entertaining outside (sorry, cold weather friends!) It’s warm enough that your guests don’t have to wear heavy jackets, but cool enough that no one is sweltering in the heat. Time to party!
Spring entertaining calls for beautiful, light springtime dishes that include fruits, fresh herbs, and other ingredients that make your guests think of growing gardens and fresh produce. Elegant parties always include some sort of cute finger food that your guests can pick up all daintily with their pinkies in the air. Make them feel classy! 😉 I served these pretty, little Soft Cheese Crostini with Pickled Grapes and Rosemary at a recent party and they were a hit! My guests ooed and ahhhed at the colorful grapes and vibrant herbs, but they were even more excited when they took the first bite. Bam! Sweet grapes with a hint of sour, fresh rosemary, and creamy, salty cheese all piled on crunchy bread—the mix of flavors and textures was astounding!
This recipe is super easy, but looks and tastes fancy! Perfect for a party, right? You just take some fresh bread, brush it lightly with olive oil, and bake it in the oven. While the bread is cooling, you’re going to make some quick pickled grapes. I love pickling fruit! It adds such a nice complexity and flavor profile. Plus, it’s so simple! Just put the grapes in an easy white wine vinegar and sugar mixture for 10 minutes and, voila! Delicious pickled grapes! Careful though. These things are addicting. I usually end up eating them straight out of the bowl! These pickled grapes are very versatile and can also be served alongside grilled fish or chicken for a pop of acid!
After the bread has cooled and the grapes are pickled, you spread your favorite fresh, soft cheese right on top of the baguette. Brie works beautifully with this recipe, as does camembert or any soft goat cheese. You can even use cream cheese, if you want! Any soft, spreadable cheese will work well. Then, comes the flavor burst—adding the pickled grapes! Grapes and cheese go so well together, naturally. Believe it or not, pickled grapes go even better with cheese! The hint of sourness complements the saltiness of the cheese perfectly and acts as a bit of a palate cleanser, so the cheese doesn’t overpower everything (similar to dried fruit on a cheese plate). Pickled grapes have an acidity that mirrors wine, so pairing them with cheese just makes sense. Lastly, you add a sprinkle of chopped rosemary on top for a bit of freshness and you’re done! The perfect party appetizer.
In addition to the gorgeous look and delicious taste, this delightful appetizer brings something else to the party that most other recipes don’t. It’s easily adaptable to a wide range of allergies and dietary restrictions. The number of people with allergies and dietary restrictions is growing, and the best hosts/hostesses try to accommodate friends who may have a more limited diet. You don’t want your vegan and gluten-free friends to be sitting off to the side, munching on carrot sticks, while everyone else is eating delicious food, do you? But, at the same time, it can be hard and tricky to have to make multiple dishes to please everyone. This appetizer solves that problem for you!
I have a ton of vegan friends and I don’t eat a lot of dairy myself, so in addition to the regular dairy version of this recipe, I also served a vegan version made with a soft, nut-cheese! Vegan cheeses have really improved in recent years and many brands now sell artisan dairy-free cheeses that taste remarkably similar to high-quality regular cheeses. I used Kite Hill brand “Soft Fresh Original” for the vegan version of this appetizer, but there are a lot of other great brands too! If any of your friends have nut allergies, there’s also plenty of vegan soft cheeses that are nut-free too! Just read the labels. You can also use my little trick for a cheap and easy vegan “ricotta” cheese. Just take some firm tofu, put it in the food processor with some salt plus a little squeeze of lemon, and pulse until it has a ricotta-like texture. Done!
For my gluten-free friends, I used a gluten-free baguette (Udi’s makes a pretty good one) and kept the toppings the same. I also had one friend who is gluten-free AND dairy-free, so I made a gluten-free + vegan version for him with gluten-free bread and vegan cheese. Perfect! Everybody was happy and so impressed that I made one appetizer that could accommodate everyone. They were so touched that I went to the “effort”, but the awesome part is, it really wasn’t any extra effort at all. Once you prep the ingredients, everything comes together so easily whether you’re using gluten-free bread or regular bread. It’s all the same in the end. I hope none of my friends from the party are reading this post—they all assumed I went to this great big effort and I just gave myself away. Whoops.
So, to recap:
- Regular recipe: Baguette, Brie or another soft cheese of your choice, rosemary, pickled grapes
- Vegan recipe: Baguette, vegan soft cheese or firm tofu + salt + lemon in the food processor, rosemary, pickled grapes
- Gluten-Free recipe: Gluten-Free bread, Brie or another soft cheese of your choice, rosemary, pickled grapes
- Vegan AND Gluten-Free recipe: Gluten-free bread, vegan soft cheese or firm tofu + salt + lemon in the food processor, rosemary, pickled grapes
You can make just one or two of these versions or you can make all of them, depending on how many different dietary needs you want to satisfy! Just make sure you label each plate, so people can tell the difference. It’s super easy, and doesn’t take any more time or work than just doing one version. The choice is yours! It’s your party. 😀
I got rave reviews for this fun, elegant appetizer at my spring party and, now, you can too! Impress your guests, while easily accommodating any dietary restrictions they may have. I hope this recipe inspires you to throw your own spring gathering. There’s nothing in the world like reconnecting with friends in warm weather over a beautiful dish that brings everyone together! Celebrate spring, while you can! After all, summer is just around the corner. Enjoy!
- For the bread:
- 1 baguette, cut in ¾-inch slices
- ¼ cup olive oil
- For the pickled grapes:
- 1 cup red grapes, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Other toppings:
- 8 oz fresh soft cheese, such as brie or camembert
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Brush each baguette slice lightly with olive oil, on both sides. Place in one layer on a baking sheet.
- Put baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. The bread must be completely cool before you spread the cheese on it, so that the cheese won't melt.
- While the bread is cooling, make the pickled grapes. Mix vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the grapes and toss to coat. Allow to pickle for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the bread is cool, spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon of cheese. Add 4-5 slices of pickled grapes on each piece. Sprinkle with rosemary. Enjoy!
These crostini taste amazing with a little drizzle of honey over the top! Feel free to add a little honey for an extra layer of flavor (just don't use it on the vegan version!)
The pickled grapes in this recipe are extremely versatile. Feel free to make extras to serve alongside simply grilled fish or chicken for an extra pop of flavor!