Happy Tuesday, all. It’s a damp and drizzly morning here in New York, but the memory of these smoky cauliflower and white bean toasts–a perfect vegan holiday appetizer–is keeping me warm. And making me hungry.
The holiday season is officially underway, and these means plenty of festive gatherings. Most vegans (not to mention those who manage food allergies or intolerances) know what it’s like to arrive at an office party or a gathering, only to find that there’s nary a food option in sight. One solution to this dilemma is to stuff a baggie of trail mix or a snack bar into one’s purse, and eat before or after you make merry at the party. Another option, if it’s appropriate in context, is to offer to bring an appetizer, and then arrive with something so delicious that you manage not only to feed yourself, but also to win over the other partygoers with your dish.
These toasts are a perfect appetizer for vegans and vegetarians, but they’re certain to win over non-plant-based eaters, too. They’re topped with a flavorful puree of white beans, roasted cauliflower, roasted garlic, and smoked paprika, then garnished with extra roasted cauliflower pieces. They’re hearty, filling, and wholesome, which isn’t always the case with finger food.
To prepare the dish, you start by roasting a pan of cauliflower and garlic cloves (whole cloves, right in the peels). About half of the roasted cauliflower gets blended into the light, flavorful dip, along with white beans, lemon, paprika, and the sweet roasted garlic cloves that emerge from the oven when the cauliflower is done cooking. The other half of the cauliflower is used as a topping for the toasts.
The result are mini-toasts that are full of texture, not to mention pretty to look at. You could most certainly use baguette here, to make these look like traditional crostini. But I really love the softness and rustic texture of using a whole grain loaf that’s been cut into halves. Crackers will also work as a vehicle for the dip, as would veggies, such as lettuce cups or endive leaves.
The dip, meanwhile, is heavenly–a smoky, lemony, garlicky mixture that’s a wonderful alternative to traditional hummus. Whether you create an appetizer out of it or not, I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s the recipe.
Feel free to get a little fancy with the toasts, sprinkling them with some toasted nuts or seeds as a final flourish. Or, try drizzling them with balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction for even more flavor.
Or you can simply allow these hearty and vibrant bites of food to speak for themselves. Hopefully they’ll speak to you–and to anyone you share them with this season.
Hope you enjoy the recipe. Coming up later this week, I have a super festive, meal-sized kale salad for you. And on Friday, I’m featuring a cool new vegan handbag brand, complete with a holiday giveaway! Hope to see you soon.