4 Holiday Hors D'oeuvres Tips and Vegan Recipes

By: Michele Wolfson

The best part of a cocktail hour isn't spending time with loved ones, checking out what everyone is wearing or even the open bar. The best part of a cocktail hour is the hors d'oeuvres. Hors D'oeuvres literally means "outside the meal" referring to "apart from the main meal or main parts of the meal." They should only be one to two bites and shouldn't require utensils or plates. Hors d'oeuvres are finger foods that are generally served with cocktails, particularly at Holiday parties.

Appetizers are sometimes interchangeable with hors d'oeuvres, but more often appetizers are the first part of a several course meal and require plates and silverware. They both serve to whet the appetite for the food that follows later on in the evening. Since the holidays are almost upon us here are a few tips on serving hors d'oeuvres and 4 recipes for vegan-friendly hors d'oeuvres to make sure you don't leave anyone out during this holiday season.

Tips for serving hors d'oeuvres:

  1. When preparing a party with hors d'oeuvres, you want to make them look visually appealing. A stunning hors d'oeuvres is generally a fan favorite.
  2.  Have a selection of both hot and cold hors d'oeuvres.
  3. Hors d'oeuvres are meant to stimulate the appetite, not make your guests full. Therefore, nothing that is too large or heavy.
  4. If using toothpicks, have a lemon on the plate for people to stick their used ones.

Here are 4 vegan hors d'oeuvres that will stimulate the appetite of even your most carnivorous friend.

Tempeh Nori Rolls

Ingredients: 8 ounces tempeh 1/4 cup shoyu 1/4 cup water 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 cup coconut oil (OR as needed to brown tempeh) 6 scallions, trimmed and sliced half length wise 1/2 teaspoon sea-salt 2 TBS Dijon mustard 1 TBS wasabi powder mixed with water to form "ketchup like" consistency 2 sheets Nori, cut into 1 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide matchsticks 1/2 small carrot, cut into 1 1/2 inch long, and 1/8 inch wide matchsticks 1/2 small daikon, cut into 1 1/2 inch long, and 1/8 inch wide matchsticks


  1. Slice tempeh in half horizontally and then in half vertically, resulting in 4 rectangles that are equal sizes.
  2. Slice each rectangle into 3 vertical slices of equal width (12 slices in total)
  3. In medium saute pan, simmer tempeh in shoyu, water, garlic and coriander for 20 minutes. Drain and pay dry.
  4. In medium saute pan heat coconut oil. Brown tempeh slices on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  5. Bring a small pot of water to boil, add salt and scallion slices. Blanch 2-3 seconds, shock in ice water and drain.
  6. Spread a dab of mustard and wasabi on each piece of tempeh. Wrap around each dab with the Nori. Tie each nori-wrapped tempeh with once piece of scallion. Tuck a few pieces of carrot and daikon matchsticks into each package.

White Bean Spread with Endive

Tip for Dip: Dips are a very popular and are requested all of the time when I am cooking for an event. This dip can also be made into a canape. Instead of spooned into an endive leaf, toasted bread can be used as well.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed 2 cups stock or water 1 bay leaf 1/2 spring fresh rosemary 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil 2 large cloves of garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste Black pepper, to taste 12 fresh sage leaves, cut in half vertically 1 TBS arrowroot 3 TBS canola oil, for frying sage leaves Endive leaves


In a small pot bring beans, stock or water, bay leaf, sage leaf, rosemary spring, and salt to a boil. Lower heat and simmer partially covered until beans are tender (about 40 minutes). Add more water or stock if necessary.

  1. Drain beans; remove bay leaf, sage leaf, and rosemary sprig. Reserve any remaining bean liquid.
  2. In small frying pan add garlic and olive oil. Heat on a very low flame until garlic just begins to turn a golden color. Do not burn garlic!
  3. In food processor combine beans, cooked garlic and lemon juice. Blend until you have a creamy consistency. Remove from processor and place in a small bowl. Season to taste.
  4. Toss sage leaves in arrowroot. In small saute pan heat canola oil, Fry each sage leaf and let drain on paper towels.
  5. Spoon bean paste onto endive leaf.
  6. Garnish with sage leaf

Chick Pea Fritters aka Pakoras

 Tip for Fritters: They must be served hot and with sauce on the side.

Ingredients: 1 cup chickpea flour (Besan) 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup water 2 finely chopped green chillies, 1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon baking powder oil for frying An assortment of vegetables: Onions, cut into rings or sliced, potato


1. Stir the flour, salt and chilli powder into a bowl. 2. Pour in sufficient water to make a thick batter and beat well until smooth. .batter should be consistency of pancake batter 3. Stir the chillies, coriander and baking powder into the batter. 4. Drop in the potatoes/onions(whatever filling you choose) to coat with batter. 5. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. The frying pan should have at least 11/2 inch of oil. (To check if the oil is ready, put one drop of batter in oil. The batter should come up but not change color right away). 6. Dip the vegetable slices in the batter one at a time and slowly drop in frying pan. 7. Fry the pakoras in small batches. The pakoras will take about 4 to 5 minutes to cook. 8. Turn them occasionally. Fry the pakoras until both sides are golden-brown. 9. Repeat this process. The crispy, delicious pakoras are ready to serve.

*If oil is too hot pakoras will not be crispy and or if oil is not hot enough pakoras will be greasy.


You can use almost any vegetable when making these pakoras, such as eggplant, onion, cabbage, bell pepper, and different kinds of chilies! Feel free to experiment!

  1. The pakoras are even tastier when dipped in fresh cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney, ranch dressing
  2. You can make the pakoras in advance and when ready to eat, spread on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven on 300-degree heat. You can also make sandwiches with the left over pakoras.

Mushroom & Leek Strudels

Ingredients: Filling 1/4 cup bulgur 6 tsp. olive oil 24 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (about 8 cups) 4 medium-sized leeks, sliced (3 cups) 1/2 cup chopped green onions 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Strudels 24 sheets phyllo dough (about 10 oz.), thawed according to package directions 2 tsp. poppy seeds


1. Put bulgur in medium bowl, and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let soak until most of water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Drain, and press out excess moisture.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until tender and browned. Transfer to large bowl. Add 2 tsp. oil to skillet, and repeat with remaining mushrooms. Add remaining 2 tsp. oil to skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add leeks, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to bowl of mushrooms.

3. Add bulgur, green onions, dill, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste to mushroom mixture; toss well. Let cool completely.

4. Preheat oven to 375F (if not making strudels ahead of time). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, or coat with cooking spray.

5. Unroll phyllo sheets onto clean, dry surface. Cover with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel. Carefully lift one sheet of phyllo, and place on sheet of wax paper. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Layer another 5 sheets of phyllo on top, lightly coating each with cooking spray. Cut stack in half to make 2 squares. Keep phyllo stack covered while assembling individual strudels.

6. Place about 2/3 cup filling in center of one phyllo square. Bring 4 corners together, then press firmly along seams to seal. Lightly coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Place strudel on prepared baking sheet. Repeat to make 8 strudels. (If doing ahead, tightly cover strudels with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.)

7. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and crisp. To serve, pool Madeira-Mushroom Sauce on plates, and place strudels in centers of sauce.

Photos: Michele Wolfson

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