Thanksgiving is the first holiday to prep for, and whether you’re having a big family get together, or a smaller, more intimate Friendsgiving, there’s nothing better than starting a nice dinner with some tasty hors d’oeuvres to snack on while dinner is cooking. And what goes better with appetizers than wine? Nothing, really. Unless it’s excellent wine at an amazing discount. And that’s where trusty G.O. comes in!
Did you know that Grocery Outlet has a huge wine section? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Besides their cheese section, and the N.O.S.H. aisles, this is the other best kept secret at G.O. With over 150 wines to choose from, you’ll never run out of options, and they’re making the deals even sweeter for the next seven days. From November 2nd to November 8th, Grocery Outlet is offering an extra 20% off their already amazing wine prices. That means up to 80% savings on delicious local and imported wines, like the Red Rock Malbec for just $3.19 a bottle, sold elsewhere for almost $10! Holiday season can get expensive, so this is a wonderful time to stock up.
The fine folks at G.O. asked me to come up with some appetizer ideas that would pair well with some of these wines, and naturally, I obliged. Then they told me they would also send me a couple bottles of my choice to try out, and I did backflips. After all, any day wine is shipped to your home is a holiday.
(Be sure to scroll all the way through... there are TWO recipes in this post! Woo hoo!)
White Bean & Mushroom Crostini
1 French or Italian bread baguette, cut into 1/2" rounds
1 14.5 oz can white kidney beans, drained
6-8 medium mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion, divided
1 T finely chopped fresh garlic, divided
1-2 T olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup ricotta cheese (optional)
1 T finely chopped parsley
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange the baguette rounds on a baking sheet and brush with butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet. Add 1/4 cup of the diced yellow onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook until both are fragrant. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic salt and the black pepper, followed by the beans. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes until everything is heated through. Set aside.
2. In a separate skillet, heat the remaining olive oil and cook the garlic and onion as instructed above. Add the mushrooms and seasonings, and cook until the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Place about 2/3 of the white bean mixture into a bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. You want this to become a paste, but still have chunks of the beans for added texture. In a separate bowl, add the remaining 1/3 of the beans, and mix together with the sauteed mushrooms.
4. Time to plate! Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of the bean mixture onto each crostini round. Top that with the mushroom and bean mixture. If desired, place a tiny dollop of ricotta on top of the mushroom mixture (this is optional, but I find it ties everything together with a creamy finish). Sprinkle each with some finely chopped parsley, serve with Pinot Grigio or your favorite white wine, and enjoy!
Salami & Sweet Pepper Mini Polenta Pizzas
1/2 18 oz. tube of prepared polenta
1 6 oz. package hot salami (sopressata is my favorite, and you can use mild salami if you prefer)
1/4 cup your favorite jarred marinara sauce (or you can use my "pizza sauce" recipe here)
3-4 mini sweet bell peppers, cut into 1/2" strips
1-2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
2 mozzarella string cheese sticks
1. Slice the cheese sticks into small rounds and set aside. Slice the polenta into 1/2" thick rounds. Season both sides of each slice very lightly with salt & pepper and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When oil is heated through, arrange the polenta slices in the skillet and pan-fry for about 3 minutes on each side, or until slightly golden brown & crispy to the touch.
2. In a small skillet, heat the rest of the olive oil. Add the sliced sweet peppers, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender. (NOTE: If you don't have enough time, you can sub jarred roasted red peppers for this step. Just drain and slice them up, and set them aside for assembly.)
3. Remove the polenta from the skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Add about a teaspoon of marinara sauce to each polenta slice, then top with 2 slices of salami, followed by a few slices of sweet peppers. Top with 2-3 mini rounds of cheese. Return the mini pizzas to the skillet and cover, cooking for another 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. You can also place these under the broiler instead, to get that "pizza oven" finish. Just broil for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melty.
4. Serve with a good Zinfandel or another bold red, and enjoy!