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by Sarah Steimer

I love a nice, light sandwich for lunch, and these two don't require many ingredients and hardly any time. Cut off the crusts and slice into smaller bites and you also have some great tea sandwiches.

I love a nice, light bite for breakfast or lunch, and these two don’t require many ingredients and hardly any time. Cut off the crusts and slice into smaller bites and you also have some great tea sandwiches.

For the radish and scallions over Greek yogurt:

For each sandwich, use one piece of bread. Spread each piece of bread with about 2-3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt. Top with one small, thinly sliced radish and one scallion, sliced on an extreme angle. Sprinkle with fresh crushed pepper.

For the apple with cinnamon over ricotta:

For each sandwich, use one piece of bread. Spread each piece of bread with about 2-3 tablespoons ricotta and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Top with 1/4 of an apple, such as a Gala, sliced thin. Sprinkle again with cinnamon.

Recipes adapted from: Bon Appetit here and here

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by Sarah Steimer

There isn’t much physical work involved in this (cutting, blending), but it’s best to start your prep work early. My vegetables needed to be in the oven for quite a while longer than I expected. But it makes the house (or in my case, apartment) smell awesome in the meantime.

  • 4-5 cups fresh tomatoes, cut in half or quarters (about 4 regular tomatoes)
  • 4-5 medium-large carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into large wedges
  • 5-6 medium or large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (hot or sweet)
  • 2 slices of hearty bread
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella

Arrange the tomatoes, carrots, onion and garlic in a baking dish or pan (I prefer a baking dish for the higher sides). Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and most — but not all — of the thyme. Toss to coat the vegetables, keeping them in a single layer.

Roast the vegetables at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until a fork can be easily inserted into the carrots (my vegetables took closer to an hour for whatever reason — have patience!).

Remove the vegetables from the oven and let sit while you bring the stock to a simmer in a medium pot or dutch oven. When ready, add the vegetables and the pan juices to the stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, sprinkle the bread with olive oil and top with the mozzarella slices.  Place the bread on a metal pan or right on the your oven rack under the broiler. Allow the bread to toast under the broiler for about 2 minutes — always keeping an eye on it as it will toast quickly. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining thyme.

Once the vegetables have simmered, add the contents of the pot to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the paprika. Season again with salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve the soup with the mozzarella and thyme toasts.

Makes two-three servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Gouda Life

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by Caitlin Saniga

To bulk up the number of servings in this recipe, serve the panzanella over arugula or a mix of greens.

  • 4 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and broiled until brown (I used a roasted garlic loaf.)
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pickled red onions
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, torn
  • 6 mint leaves, torn
  • 12 kalamata olives, sliced
  • salt and pepper

Place the toasted bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the tomatoes on a cutting board and add both the tomatoes and the juice to the bowl of bread. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Pour the mixture over the bread as well. Thoroughly toss to combine, and set aside, letting the bread soak for about 20 minutes.

When the croutons are soft but not mushy, gently mix in the pickled onions, basil, mint and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Stored in an airtight container, the salad holds for 1day in the fridge.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Urban Pantry

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by Sarah Steimer

I made a similar sandwich for our grilled cheese guide last year, but this dish uses both a different cheese and herb. What really took this to another level for me was rubbing the bread with garlic. It really cuts back on the grapes’ sweetness and gives the meal a more robust flavor.

I’m keeping the ingredient measurements open-ended. You can pretty much guess how much of everything you’ll need depending on whether you’re just making this for lunch or as an appetizer for company. If you would like me to be more specific, just say so in the comments and I’ll happily oblige.

—S

  • olive oil
  • grapes, rinsed and sliced in half (not necessary to slice, but it keep them from rolling off the bread)
  • thyme leaves (pulled from the stem), plus a few springs for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • bread
  • 1/2 piece of garlic
  • goat cheese or other spreading cheese

Heat enough olive oil in a small pan to just cover the bottom. Over low heat, add the grapes, thyme, salt and pepper. Be careful when adding the grapes, the natural juices from the fruit will cause the oil in the pan to spit a little. Sauté the grape mixture until the grapes have browned some and softened.

While the grapes are cooking, toast the bread. Rub the garlic half over the toasts generously, then spread with the goat cheese — try to keep it within 1 tablespoon per piece of bread, you don’t want the cheese to overpower any of the other flavors.

Top the goat cheese toasts with the cooked grapes and add sprigs of thyme, if desired, as a garnish.

Recipe adapted from: Mango & Tomato

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by Sarah Steimer

Fava beans, fennel and mint aren’t flavors a lot of people are necessarily comfortable with – particularly all mixed together. Make sure you have a willing crowd, or a back-up dish.

  • 1/2 cup whole or sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled OR 3 pounds frozen
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh mint
  • 1 small head fennel, very thinly sliced, then coarsely chopped

Sauté the almonds in a small pan over low heat until they begin to brown. Remove from the pan and, if whole, chop into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Not sure about all the dainty flavors? Add some crumbled bacon.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the shelled fava beans (or defrost the frozen beans) for about 2 minutes. Immediately submerge the beans in a bowl of ice water after blanching or defrosting to stop the process. Pop the beans out of their skin.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add almonds, fava beans, cheese and mint, toss to combine.

Place the bean salad over a handful of the fennel on each plate. Serve with a slice of toasted bread.

Makes four servings.

Recipe from: Martha Stewart

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by Caitlin Saniga

The original recipe called for bacon, which I'm sure tasted lovely, but to make this a meatless meal, I traded the bacon for some edamame, which added some nice color and protein. I loved this meal!

  • olive oil
  • half onion, thinly sliced,
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 9 leaves of kale without stems, cut into ribbons
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • toasted baguette, rubbed with a raw garlic clove and spread with butter

Hahahahaha. I was totally expecting the yolk to just spill freely out of the egg when I sliced into it, but it didn't budge. I put my eggs in the oven for 6 minutes, but if you want runny egg yolk (for dipping toast in), check the progress after 4 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Coat the bottom of an ovenproof large saute pan with olive oil. (I used a castiron skillet.) Over medium-low heat, cook the onion and garlic, stirring until soft and slightly brown, about 8 minutes.

Working in batches if necessary, put the kale in a saute pan and cook until it’s wilted, turning continuously for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the pan with an inch of water, and cover, bringing it to a simmer. Cook until the kale is tender, and drain off any residual liquid.

Increase the heat to medium. Make three “pockets” in the kale, and crack an egg in each. Leave untouched for about 2 minutes, to let the bottom of each egg set. Cover the pan and put it iin the oven until the egg white is set, 4-6 minutes.

Garnish with edamame, and serve alongside toast.

Makes 3 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Urban Pantry

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by Caitlin Saniga

The last time I was at my grandparents' house, my grandpa asked my grandma, "Trisha, when's the last time you made Gus puffs?" which basically means he's crazy for these things. P.S. Grandma calls these Gus puffs.

  • 1 ounce Parmesan, grated, plus more for topping
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup minced onions
  • 6-7 slices soft bread (I used a soft wheat, but white or Italian would work wonderfully.)
  • 2-3 chives, snipped into 1-inch segments
These crispy little puffs can be ready in no time! The most time-consuming part is cutting out the circles.

These crispy little puffs can be ready in no time! The most time-consuming part is cutting out the circles.

In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan, mayonnaise and onions.

Use a small glass to punch out circles of bread (avoid the crust!). Put the circles on a baking sheet.

Turn the broiler on low, and position an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler.

Place the bread under the broiler, and toast until it turns golden-brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven. Spread a heaping teaspoonful of the onion mixture on the untoasted side of a piece of bread. Repeat until all of the bread is topped with the mixture. Sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan cheese over the topping. Return the baking sheet of bread to the oven, and cook until the onion mixture puffs up and turns golden brown, 6-8 minutes.

Remove puffs from the oven and top with a few chives.

Serve warm.

Makes dozens. (Depends on the size of the bread slices and the size of the glass you use. My 1 1/2-inch glass with 6 slices of Pepperidge Farm wheat bread made 36.)

Recipe: Patricia Janis, my grandma

*Throughout December, “Merry and Bites” will feature finger foods with seasonal flair. All of them can be found here. Happy holidays!

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