It's a tall order to fill but I keep my eyes peeled for easy appetizers that look nice and call for relatively inexpensive and accessible ingredients. Oh and I want them to be a little different but at the same time, still familiar! See what I mean about a "tall order"?!
This is the first time I've made tortilla rolls but it won't be the last. These are so pretty! And easy to make! And while I needed to let pears to ripen on the counter for a couple of days (wait! apples would have worked too, without the wait!) but everything else was already on hand.
RECIPE for SPINACH PINWHEELS with PEARS & DRIED CRANBERRIES
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes about 48 slices
2 tablespoons butter
2 pears, skins on, diced very small
Salt & pepper to taste
CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE
1/2 cup (65g) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (65g) toasted pistachios
4 ounces (115g) fresh spinach, leaves only
8 ounces (225g) low-fat (Neufchatel) cream cheese, room temperature
6 spinach tortillas
Freshly ground pepper
PEARS Melt butter in a large skillet, add pears as they're prepped and toss to coat with fat. Cook gently until soft, near the end season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE Chop the cranberries and pistachios in a food processor until small but still distinctive and identifiable pieces, you don't want "powder" or "butter". Transfer to a large bowl. Add the spinach and Neufchatel to the food processor, process until smooth and bright green. Add the cranberries and pistachios back in, process just until blended. (Why do this in two steps? It's to make sure that the cranberry and pistachios don't get over-processed.) Transfer back to the large bowl, stir in the cooked pears.
TO ASSEMBLE (see photo above) Set up an assembly line, all six tortillas plus the cheese mixture. With an offset spatula or flat knife, spread the cream cheese mixture across the tortilla. Sprinkle the mixture with pepper, it makes all the difference making these "savory" appetizers. Now roll the tortillas, as tightly as you can.
REFRIGERATE Wrap the tortillas in plastic wrap (or put them back into the bag the tortillas came in) and refrigerate overnight.
TO SERVE An hour or so before serving, slice off the ends of each roll just at the point where the cheese mixture starts, then cut each tortilla into about 8 rolls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I experimented with different ways to spread the mixture to minimize waste. After the tortillas are rolled, the sides will be cut off and discarded – so you don't want to waste any filling there, although you do want to get right to the edge of where you'll cut. You also want the tortillas to seal when they're rolled – so I found it works best to go almost to the rounded edge on one side, then roll that direction. This all sounds so confusing in words, I think the photo above tells the story better, check it out!
I thought fresh spinach leaves (whole or chopped) might be nice on top of the cream cheese mixture: but the added spinach was hardly noticeable, not worth the effort.
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from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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