I love the small plate tradition-- Spanish Tapas, Greek Mezes, or Italian Antipasta. Unlike the appetizer course, these tiny portions stand alone as a meal of beautiful, complex flavors and aromas.
If you are having a holiday gathering, tapas are a great alternative to the heavier dishes of the season. Guests can sample everything and not feel like they have to roll out the door at the end of the night. (Well maybe if they had too much spiced wine...)
And tapas make a beautiful presentation:
Marinated Tofu With Kiwi Relish
Spanish Olives & Tofu
Although many tapas dishes contain sausages, cheeses, or eggs, there are many vegan options. Olives are so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways or just served alone with some crackers. Potatoes are another option. Stayed tuned to Carrot Top Vegan on Tuesdays for lots of delectable small plate recipes!
Here is a simple, but rich olive tapenade I like to serve on crackers or pita points:
(makes about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
1 clove Garlic, smashed
Pinch of Dried Lemon Peel
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Sherry Wine
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
Add all ingredients except oil to mini food processor and pulse a few times to break up olives. Add 1 tsp olive oil at a time, pulsing a few times to incorporate. Mix until combined.