This holiday season don’t let a main dish hog all the glory. Instead let guests feast on a festive spread of small plates and sides. Snack-size portions of a wide range of delicious dishes are the perfect solution for entertaining.
A large, heavy meal can leave guests feeling lethargic. Keep your party lively with lighter bites that guests can nibble on throughout the night. Another advantage of a small plate menu is that guests will appreciate the chance to sample many flavors without fear of over-indulging.
Get your party planning started with these tips:
* Keep dishes simple and put the focus on quality ingredients, such as naturally lactose and gluten free Jarlsberg cheese. Best known for the classic wedge available in original and smoked flavors, Jarlsberg cheese offers a mild, mellow, nutty and delicious taste that is perfect for any cheese board and pairing with meats of your choice.
* Give traditional vegetable sides a special boost to make them party perfect. Basic asparagus gets a fresh twist with this Asparagus Tart, which blends savory Jarlsberg brand cheese and a pastry for a pretty presentation you can cut into squares before serving.
* Plan your menu with the clock in mind. Choose foods that will taste great for the duration of your party without drying out or loosing flavor, such as this Tomato Gratin.
* Keep cold dishes chilled by setting the serving bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice (add some flair by tinting the ice or adding decorative accents).
* Use burners to keep the heat on warm dishes, or simply rotate in fresh batches periodically.
Give your holiday entertaining an extra boost this year with Jarlsberg Cheese’s Great Holiday Giveaway, which runs through Dec. 31 and offers prizes for holiday entertaining, including a DSLR camera as the grand prize and weekly charcuterie party kits.
Learn more and enter (once per day) at Facebook.com/Jarlsbergusa, and find more holiday entertaining recipes at jarlsberg.com.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 cups Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out puff pastry into 16-by-10-inch rectangle, trimming uneven edges. Place on baking sheet. With knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch from edges to mark rectangle. Using fork, pierce dough inside markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove pastry shell from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Trim asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside pastry shell. Arrange in single layer over cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, sprinkle thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, about 20 minutes.
8 medium ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
(or 4 basil leaves, chopped)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 ounces toasted pine (pignoli) nuts
1/2 pound (8 ounces) grated Jarlsberg cheese
Heat oven to 350 F.
Cut tomatoes in half.
In bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; gently mix in tomatoes. Transfer to ovenproof dish, turning tomatoes cut side up before baking 15 minutes.
When tomatoes are cool enough, remove skins before returning to baking dish. Sprinkle tomatoes with nuts and cheese. Return to oven and bake about 10 minutes, or until cheese turns golden and bubbly.
Serve as bruschetta on sliced, toasted Italian bread or as a side dish to fish and meat.
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut
1 cup Jarlsberg cheese
1 cup milk
1 container sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350 F.
Place potatoes in large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until tender. Drain and bring potatoes to food processor.
In food processor, add cheese, milk, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Process all ingredients with potatoes until smooth. Pour mixture into baking pan and cover with tin foil.
Bake 30 minutes. Uncover potatoes during last 10 minutes to allow browning.
Platters featuring savory finger foods are a flavorful and easy solution for holiday entertaining. Simply assemble ingredients, such as those listed below, on a large wooden or slate board and serve. Get creative by adding fig spreads, fresh fruit or other nibbles you enjoy, and don’t forget the toothpicks and napkins. Be sure to take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving to ensure that it is room temperature to bring out the ideal flavor. Never serve cheese cold.
* Wedge or cubed Jarlsberg cheese
* Assortment of whole grain crackers and crusty bread slices
* Italian Genoa salami, coppa or your favorite charcuterie meats
* Assorted olives, nuts and dried or fresh fruits