Make Ahead Appetizers: Radish Sandwiches, Purple Potatoes, & Minted Pea Crostini / by Kelly Allison

Easy, delicious, and partially make-ahead dishes are key to hosting a stress free (or at least reduced stress) event. These appetizers offer all three of those attributes, and are sure to please your palate. Plus, each has a little twist to adapt to this spring's unusual pairings culinary theme.

spring radish and arugula
RADISH + ARUGULA FINGER SANDWICHES WITH CLEMENTINE HONEY BUTTER
(vegetarian; can be made gluten free & dairy free)
1/2 loaf dark bavarian rye sandwich bread (or other dark loaf)
1/2 loaf jewish rye sandwich bread (or other light loaf)
* We like S.Rosen's bread, but if you're outside of Chicago, Pepperidge Farm is nice, too. 2 bunches radishes (1 radish per half sandwich, or 1/2 if using longer heirloom varietals)
5 oz baby arugula
4 oz unsalted European butter (Plugra or the like), softened to room temperature
1 T local honey
zest from one clementine
fleur de sel

Make Ahead: Up to 2 days ahead, place softened butter in a standing mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Adjust mixing speed to low and slowly add the honey in a steady stream. This will cause your butter to separate a little--which is normal. Add clementine zest and mix until fully incorporated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and mix well before using.

clementine honey butter

1 day ahead, remove greens from radishes and use to make this. Slice into very thin rounds and place into an ice water bath. Store in refrigerator.
Place one slice of dark bread atop one slice of dark and cut in half (vertically or on the bias, depending on your desired look) If you're wanting the elegant look of tea sandwiches, trim the crusts from your bread. If a more rustic look is desired, keep them intact. Keep halves together and put back into the bread bag until ready to use.

radish and arugula sandwich

Just before serving, wash arugula and drain radishes, place both on a towel to dry. Slather each half of bread with orange butter. Top one half with a small handful of arugula, then arrange the radish slices in a thick layer on top. Sprinkle radishes with fleur de sel and top with bread. Serve as is, or wrap in parchment + twine for an extra special look.

(Dietary restrictions? Substitute toasted gluten free bread, &/or Earth Balance spread for butter.)

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MAJESTIC POTATO + WATERCRESS BITES (gluten free, vegan)

Have you ever seen these? I mean up close and in person? They really are this color. And they are amazing. For the potatoes, I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. These can be made up to one day in advance--bring to room temperature before plating.To add a little twist on the flavors, spoonfuls of potato were served atop watercress leaves, giving a peppery & aromatic boost to the bite. To keep the watercress from wilting, toss with a touch of olive oil just before serving.

mint and pea with balsamic

MINTED PEA CROSTINI WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION (can be made gluten free, vegetarian & dairy free)

1 loaf crusty bread (baguette or peasant bread) 1 clove garlic 3 - 5 T extra virgin olive oil 16 oz fresh or frozen peas 1 bunch garden mint 3 - 5 T balsamic reduction 1/4 lb prosciutto (optional) 3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano fleur de sel

Up to 1 day ahead, preheat oven to 350˚. Slice bread into thin rounds (cut slices in half if using larger loaf) and arrange single layer on a baking sheet. Brush or drizzle olive oil on both sides of each. Bake on the center rack for until golden brown (about 7 minutes). Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Blanch peas in boiling water, then mash with a potato masher or pestle until most peas are about 1/4 of their original size. Coarse chop the mint leaves and add to the peas. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and mix well. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.

Just before serving, bring the pea mixture to room temperature and add more olive oil if the mixture seems dry. Brush tops of each crostini toast with a halved clove of garlic. Top first with a slice of prosciutto (if using) then a spoonful of your pea mixture. Drizzle tops with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with fleur de sel. (Note: the amount of fleur de sel depends on your ingredients of choice. If using prosciutto &/or parmesan, you'll need less. If you're serving just the peas, you'll need more.) Top each crostini with either a shaving of parmesan or a small mint leaf.

Enjoy!