Home / Happy Holidays Blog / Holiday Appetizers: Two Dishes Your Guests Won’t Be Expecting

Holiday Appetizers: Two Dishes Your Guests Won’t Be Expecting

Even if you’re serving a few typical appetizers at your holiday party, there’s no reason not to throw in a couple unexpected dishes to make your guests take a second look—and a second helping.

Picky gusts who think they don’t like eggplant will love the crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside eggplant rounds sweetened with a little honey. The cracker crust will disguise them anyway, so don’t tell the picky eaters what they’re eating until they’ve devoured a few.

Many of your guests may have never tried plantains—all the more reason to serve them. Partygoers will love the banana-sweetness and the crunchy texture. Serve some homemade Mango Chutney to dip the plantain sticks in, and your guests will remember your party fare as something special—even if everything else is just a blur.

Cracker-Crusted Eggplant Rounds with Honey Drizzle

Ingredients and Preparation

(makes 18-20 pieces)

  • 2 eggplants, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter at large end (in other words, not a really fat eggplant!)
  • sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • flour, for dredging
  • 1 1/2 cups very fine dark cracker crumbs, preferably from whole-grain wheat crackers
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • honey, for drizzling
  1. Peel the eggplants and slice them crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (9-10 slices per eggplant).
  2. Lay the slices on several layers of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Turn the pieces over and salt the second side. Cover with more layers of paper towels and let sit 30 minutes.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour flour onto one plate and cracker crumbs on another.
  5. Dredge the eggplant rounds in the flour, then dip in egg mixture and let excess drip off. Press each piece into the cracker crumbs until completely coated.
  6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add half the olive oil. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, place half the eggplant rounds in it in a single layer.
  7. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn over and fry 2 minutes longer.
  8. Drain the eggplant on paper towels then place on a serving platter and drizzle generously with honey.

(You may want to provide small plates and forks with these—or expect sticky fingers!)

Fried Plantains with Sea Salt and Brown Sugar

Ingredients and Preparation

(makes about 24 pieces)

Plantains aren’t as easy to peel as their banana cousins, but here’s a helpful tip: quarter the plantain before trying to peel it. Just slice it in half crosswise, then slice each half lengthwise. Gently pull the peel away from each piece and you’re ready to slice them for frying.

  • 3 medium-ripened plantains (yellowish green, not dark brown)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • sea salt
  • generous amount of brown sugar, or to taste
  • Mango Chutney (optional)
  1. Slice each quarter of plantain in half so that each fruit yields 8 slices.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, place 1/3 of the plantain slices in it in a single layer.
  3. Season with salt and fry 1-2 minutes on each side until both are golden brown and the outside is crispy.
  4. Drain the plantains on paper towels and repeat 2 more times with the remaining oil and plantain slices.
  5. Plate the plantains and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and serve as is or with Mango Chutney as a sweet and savory condiment.