Appetizers that don't have to be kept cold or heated before serving are typically timesavers because they require less preparation. If you're hosting a party, you can set them out and not worry about spoilage. Some are also healthy snacks, so you can keep them in a jar on the counter for the kids to munch on when they get hungry.
Nuts, particularly almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pecans, lend themselves well to seasoning. Dusting peanuts with chili powder, cayenne and garlic salt makes a spicy appetizer. Stir them together with a packet of dry dip mix for savory, easy treat. Use unblanched whole almonds in the same recipe, but add a little sugar to the mixture for a sweet and spicy treat. Pecans and brown sugar pair well. Walnuts tossed in onion and garlic powder are a tasty snack. Cut down on cleanup by combining the spices in a plastic bag and adding the nuts. None of these seasoned nut mixtures require heating, but all can benefit from being gently roasted in the oven or over a low fire in a sauté pan. Stir them frequently if you choose to roast them.
The vinegar in most pickled products prevents spoilage. Make your own version of a giardiniere, or garden salad, by combining cocktail onions, pickled cauliflower, olives, and pickled peppers like pepperoncini. Serve with deli meats and cheese as part of an antipasto platter, or provide toothpicks for individual servings. Pickle your own vegetables by placing cut-up vegetables, peeled garlic cloves and fresh herbs into a clean jar. Fill the jar with vinegar and seal tightly. The vegetables last several months in the refrigerator.
Dry sausages like salami and chorizo are air-cured rather than smoked or cooked. They're safe to eat at room temperature. Preparation options go well beyond sandwiches and pizza. Cube the meat and put it on top of crackers with a dab of mustard, roll it around a sour cornichon or sweet gherkin, or add it to giardiniere. Jazz up beef jerky by cutting it into thin strips and threading it on skewers. Enlist your kid's help in creating your own jerky flavors by making it at home.
Salty and Crunchy Appetizers
Make trail mix an upscale appetizer by using cashews, dry roasted edamame, raisins made from Flame red grapes, and semisweet chocolate squares chipped into smaller bits. Add wasabi peas for a spicy counterpoint to the sweet fruit and chocolate. Nut butters are safe at room temperature. Spread a dab on dried fruit chips, or dip one end of a cheese straw or breadstick in the nut butter. Sweetened hazelnut spread, popular in Europe, adds a sweet touch when used with crackers, fruit chips or breadsticks.
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.