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5 No-Cook, No-Fuss Starter Recipes: Ideal for Christmas or New Year's

Gabriel Wilson loves to cook, eat tasty foods, and drink a glass of wine—without having to do the washing up.

Mozzarella Cheese with Beef Tomatoes

Mozzarella Cheese with Beef Tomatoes

Five Easy Starter Recipes

I would like to share with you five of my favourite easy starter recipes that are no-cook, no-fuss, and no-stress. Choosing an easy starter means that you can spend more time on the main event, ensuring all goes well. A simple starter is also a crucial element when catering for large numbers. The dishes are very simple but still look good—and are just enough to whet the appetite before the tucking into a celebratory dinner:

  • Presunto and Honeydew Melon
  • Mozzarella Cheese With Beef Tomatoes and Basil Pesto
  • Fresh Goat Cheese and Pesto-Filled Cherry Tomatoes, Served With Crackers
  • Crisp Caesar Salad
  • Carpaccio With Rocket and Balsamic Glaze
Presunto and Honeydew Melon

Presunto and Honeydew Melon

Presunto and Honeydew Melon

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 200g good quality presunto/prosciutto (dry-cured ham)
  • 1 medium honeydew melon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Cracked black pepper (optional)

Method

  1. Arrange the Presunto on a bread or cheese board.
  2. Cut the melon in half, using a teaspoon scoop out the seeds.
  3. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the melon and cracked black pepper.
  4. Cut the melon into long strips and/or bite-size pieces leaving the skin on and arrange on your board to serve.

Tips

If I have a crowd and dinner is a little way off, I like to serve Philadelphia cheese with added snipped chives in a bowl surrounded by cheese sticks and salt crackers with some cherry tomatoes and baby mint leaves on the side. The soft cream cheese and tomatoes complement the cured ham and melon, plus it's a great crowd pleaser.

Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese with Beef Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese with Beef Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese With Beef Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 100g buffalo mozzarella cheese (drained from the milky solution)
  • 2 beef tomatoes
  • Basil pesto (available from any good supermarket)
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  • Fresh chives, for garnish

Method

  1. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Slice the tomatoes into similar sizes.
  3. Arranged the tomatoes and cheese into a tower as per the photo.
  4. Drizzle a little pesto over the top tomato and also around the plate.
  5. Top with a basil leaf and some snipped chives.

Tips

Fresh bread rolls with basil butter add a little texture to this starter. Simply blitz some basil leaves and gently mix into some softened butter, place back in the fridge to chill, and remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving.

Goat Cheese and Pesto-Filled Cherry Tomatoes

Goat Cheese and Pesto-Filled Cherry Tomatoes

Goat Cheese and Pesto-Filled Cherry Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 100g fresh goat cheese
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Basil pesto
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Crisp crackers, for serving

Method

  1. Slice the cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  2. Scoop out the centre of the cherry tomatoes and fill with the basil pesto.
  3. Arrange the cheese and tomatoes on a plate as per the photo.
  4. Garnish with basil leaves.
  5. Serve with crisp crackers.

Tips

Fresh walnuts add another dimension to this dish; the natural oil in the nut works well with the goat cheese. Pop half a walnut on top of each cheese disc.

Crisp Caesar Salad

Crisp Caesar Salad

Crisp Caesar Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head flat-leaf lettuce (romaine or cos)
  • 2 shallots
  • Caesar salad dressing (available at all good supermarkets and/or Amazon)
  • 100g grated Parmesan cheese
  • Caesar salad croutons (available at all good supermarkets and/or Amazon)
  • Handful of fresh chives

Method

  1. Lightly wash the lettuce leaves and pat dry.
  2. Thinly slice the shallots.
  3. Toss the lettuce leaves, shallots and snipped chives in a deep bowl.
  4. Pour over the Caesar dressing and mix together to coat evenly.
  5. Place the salad mix on to serving plates.
  6. Scatter the croutons over the salad mix and add the grated Parmesan cheese.

Perfect, crunchy croutons

Carpaccio with Rocket and Balsamic Glaze

Carpaccio with Rocket and Balsamic Glaze

Carpaccio With Rocket and Balsamic Glaze

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 200g raw fillet beef
  • 1 bag pre-washed rocket leaf
  • 1 bottle balsamic glaze (available from all good supermarkets and/or Amazon)
  • Pine nuts, for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Olive oil, for garnish
  • Sea salt, for garnish
  • Cracked black pepper, for garnish

Method

  1. Cut the fillet beef into thin slices (straight from the fridge, not room temperature).
  2. Place each slice of beef between 2 sheets of cling film. Using a rolling pin, roll the beef out as thin as you can get it. Don't worry if it breaks a little.
  3. Arrange the slices of beef onto serving plates.
  4. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the sliced beef in a zig-zag design.
  5. Place the rocket leaves in the centre of the beef slices and sprinkle over the pine nuts.
  6. Pour the olive oil into a tablespoon and gently add 6 to 8 drops around the edge of the plate.
  7. Shave over a generous portion of Parmesan cheese.
  8. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Ideal glaze for carpaccio

Easy Appetiser Dips

Dips and crisps are always an easy appetiser to serve your guests as they arrive however they don't have to be dull and boring. A little extra finesse makes all the difference:

  1. Put your favourite dips into serving bowls (shop-bought is fine; all are available from good supermarkets or deli counters): e.g., cream cheese, guacamole, hummus, salsa, taramasalata and tzatiziki.
  2. Chop up some vegetables into crudities and arrange around the dips: e.g., carrots, cucumber, celery, peppers, sugar snap peas, sliced radishes and cherry tomatoes.
  3. Add crackers, crispbreads, flatbreads, cheese sticks and tortilla chips for texture and variety.
  4. Dice a good-quality hard cheese (use two varieties) into bite-size pieces and arrange on a cheese board with cocktail sticks.
  5. Add a few small bowls with mixed pitted green and black olives, and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Do You Panic in The Kitchen?

© 2019 Gabriel Wilson

Comments

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on July 24, 2020:

Thanks Peggy. I really appreciate that :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2020:

Your recipes look scrumptious! I would eat them year-round! That first photo is stunning!

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on December 05, 2019:

I must be getting old :) I am looking for a few easy ideas to combat the long haul main lol.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on December 05, 2019:

Hi Liz, yeah it's good sometimes to enjoy the fun and not be stuck in the kitchen. Ease and simplicity are under rated :)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 04, 2019:

Very cool my friend.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 04, 2019:

These are great ideas, not just for Christmas but for starters at any time of the year. I am all for ease and simplicity.