… Elegant Gluten-free Appetizers in a Hurry! (Updated 12/2014 – Can be made with Homemade “Cream Cheese” for a Non-Dairy Version.)
Need a quick and festive gluten-free appetizer recipe for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve party? I’ve put together three embellished gluten-free goat cheese* logs that are just as cheerful to look at as they are delicious. Flavor combinations that made my mouth water while I was coming up with ideas (even though I won’t be nibbling on these since I’m dairy free) brought me to these finalists: goat cheese wrapped in sweet dates and salty prosciutto, goat cheese dressed up with a candied pecan crunch and tart pomegranate arils (seeds), and goat cheese “leafed” in crisped, earthy kale and sweet, tart dried cherries.
Embellished goat cheese logs can be made just prior to serving, but can easily be made up to three days ahead, rolled in plastic wrap, and stored in the refrigerator until party time, making them very easy … and fast during last minute party-prep-crunch time.
While I approached all of these logs with a similar chop on the ingredients, so I could fix and forget, and so the embellishments on the logs would be easy to dip into with a cracker, you can be more creative with your food styling. If you choose to prepare these just before serving, your kale chips will retain a more “leafy” texture and appearance since it won’t be wrapped. Another fun way to present your prosciutto and date log might be to completely cover the goat cheese with the chopped dates, then wrap whole slices of prosciutto around the entire log. This would make a very elegant presentation, but would require the log to be sliced before serving. You’d have a colorful disc showcasing all three ingredients.
Embellished Goat Cheese Logs *(Can be made dairy-free with Homemade “Cream Cheese“)
Cooking time: 20 minutes (included in prep time)
Oven temp: 350ºF
Rest time: Can be made up to three days ahead, or just before serving
Makes: 3 4-inch logs
2 large leaves of Kale, washed, dried, and torn into large pieces
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
about 1/2 cup pecan halves
3 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped dates, pitted – I like to use fresh. Be sure not to get the precut ones as they may contain gluten to prevent sticking.
4-5 slices prosciutto
1/4 cup cried cherries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
3 4-inch logs of goat cheese – OR Homemade Dairy-free Cream Cheese
Remove goat cheese from refrigerator and allow to slightly warm up while working on next steps. This makes the cheese just soft enough to accept the embellishments and let them stick.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a resealable bag or container, toss kale, olive oil, and salt. Spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes, until leaves are dry and brittle. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
In a small, non-stick skillet, heat sugar and pecans over low heat. (If you chop the pecans before placing them in pan with sugar, you’ll have nut dust in the sugar and your mixture will result in a different texture.) Stir continuously until sugar is completely dissolved and coats the pecans. Be careful that pecans don’t burn while sugar is melting. On a foil-lined baking sheet, pour candied pecans out in a single layer, separating as much as possible, and allow to cool. Sugar will be very hot.
In a food processor, chop dates on pulse. Chop just enough to make small pieces. Dates can become smooth quickly. Add slices of prosciutto and pulse to chop. On a plate, spread out mixture with fingertips. Place one goat cheese log onto mixture, then roll to coat the entire log. If making ahead, place embellished log on a piece of plastic wrap and roll tightly to seal. Refrigerate until ready to use. If making just before serving, place the goat cheese on a decorative plate and refrigerate while finishing other preparations.
When pecans have cooled, chop into small pieces. On a plate, combine the pecan pieces with pomegranate arils and mix to distribute. Place one goat cheese log onto mixture, then roll to coat the entire log. If making ahead, place embellished log on a piece of plastic wrap and roll tightly to seal. Refrigerate until ready to use. If making just before serving, place the goat cheese on a decorative plate and refrigerate while finishing other preparations.
On a plate, crumble kale leaves. Add dried cherries and mix to distribute. Place one goat cheese log onto mixture … as directed above for two other logs.
Embellished Goat Cheese Logs pair deliciously with a robust red wine, celebrating the holidays in a festive fashion.
What’s your favorite gluten-free (or not) crackers and spread combination?
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™