Okay so now this really makes sense! Spain won the World Cup!

Appetizers, Meze or Tapas?

No matter what you call your little snacks this weekend you should enjoy a variety of them while watching the World Cup! I must admit I have watched soccer throughout my life and even played some but I haven’t paid that much attention to soccer until this World Cup. I’m not sure why I’m so interested. It is just a great game to watch especially when the teams are playing really well. I think the young German team is a great example and I was sad when Ghana couldn’t get their penalty kicks to move forward. I’ve even got into the moment when I saw the goals go in but the refs denied them for one of their many reasons! All of these moments during the World Cup I was able to watch with family and friends. My son even has a slight interest as he is in a pool and has made his selections to see who advances each time. I think whoever wins has to help the other with Pokémon.
This is like the Olympics as far as I see it, where it’s country against country and you have so many people cheering for you, hoping that the team moves on. It brings jubilation into the crowd; it’s very visible when you are watching it. Also disappointment and even tears for the losing team, so many strong emotions!
So as the World Cup is coming to a close, and with few remaining teams left, I was inspired by some Mediterranean foods to create a couple of appetizers or tapas or meze, whatever you want to call them. I call them perfect to eat when watching the final few games. Small nibbles to enjoy with drinks are what I think appetizers should be. In some cases you can make full meals of appetizers alone. I sometimes prefer eating that way because you can get so much variety with meats, cheeses and vegetables. You can make them ahead and then be ready to enjoy them at game time. Tapas is the Spanish term for the appetizers or snacks while Meze is the Greek term for the same, but is used also in a number of other countries. So you can choose what you want to call them and enjoy the flavours and simplicity of the recipes. You can make a larger spread by adding simple things like little meatballs, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, grilled vegetables and different cheeses. Enjoy this World Cup and the company you have around you because you won’t see it again for 4 years-and possibly the company too.

Halloom and Grape Tomato Stuffed Grilled Peppers

These mini peppers are perfect for tapas ideas or new side dishes. You can find halloom, the semi-soft unripened cheese in the deli section with other cheeses. It has a great firm texture that makes it easy to cut and then melts perfectly with the heat of the grill. Enjoy them right off the grill or at room temperature with the stems on they are easy to pick up and eat.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

6 sweet mini peppers
1 pkg (250 g) halloom semi-soft unripened cheese, diced
½ cup (125 mL) quartered grape tomatoes
2 tbsp (25 mL) each chopped fresh Italian parsley and basil
1 tbsp (15 mL) each extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar
Pinch each salt and pepper

Cut peppers in half lengthwise leaving stem intact. Remove seeds and inside ribs of peppers and discard; set aside.

In a bowl, combine cheese, tomatoes, parsley, basil, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into peppers and place on large plate.

Place stuffed peppers onto greased grill over medium-low heat. Close lid and cook for about 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and peppers are tender but firm. Gently remove from grill and serve.

Makes 12 stuffed peppers.

Tip: Halloumi or Halloum is the same as Halloom which is sold in most grocery stores.

Chorizo and Chickpea Tapas

This skillet mixture combines fresh herbs with hearty chorizo sausage and chickpeas that can be enjoyed on its own or alongside some crusty bread. Serve with a salty olive to round out your platter of appetizers. You can purchase semi dry cured chorizo sausage as a link sausage or already sliced in the deli.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Half onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg (250 g) mild Spanish chorizo semi dry cured sausage, thinly sliced
3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup (125 mL) chicken stock

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and cook onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add sausage, parsley and thyme and cook for 3 minutes or until sausage begins to brown. Add chickpeas and stock and cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes or until stock is almost all evaporated.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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