Spring Appetizers: Cause There's a Party Up in Here!

Welcome guests to Easter dinner or any spring get-together with appetizers that feature fresh flavors and some of the season’s finest produce, including asparagus, peas, fava beans, and artichokes.

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Wasabi Deviled Eggs

Spicy wasabi adds a sophisticated bite and a pale-green hue to traditional deviled eggs. Garnish each egg with a few pea shoots for a pretty spring touch.

8 large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice-wine vinegar
2 large scallions, minced (3 tablespoons)
Coarse salt
Pea shoots or sprouts, for garnish

1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Place eggs in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 13 minutes. Drain, and transfer eggs to ice-water bath until cold.

2. Peel eggs, and halve lengthwise. Transfer yolks to a medium bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, wasabi, vinegar, and scallions. Season with salt. Pipe or spoon filling into whites. Garnish with pea shoots or sprouts.

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Minted Pea and Prosciutto Crostini

The salty umami tang of prosciutto complements sweet spring peas in this fresh and simple hors d’oeuvre.

Spoon these flavorful toppings over crostini or toast from a country-style loaf. Each recipe makes enough for 16 small or 8 large crostini.

2 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

1. Cook peas in boiling salted water until tender, then drain. In a medium bowl, lightly mash peas with the back of a fork. Add olive oil, mint, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. To serve, divide prosciutto among crostini and top with pea mixture.

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Skewered Greek Meatballs

Feta and oregano add a Mediterranean zing to juicy beef-and-pork meatballs. Serve them with minty cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce.

For the Dipping Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt (2 percent)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Meatballs:
1/2 recipe Ground-Meat Mix (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3/4 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for hands and baking sheet

1. Make the dipping sauce: Mix together yogurt, cucumber, mint, lemon zest and juice, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; season with pepper.

2. Make the meatballs: Gently mix together meat, feta, oregano, and red-pepper flakes in a bowl; do not overmix. Form mixture into thirty 1 1/4-inch meatballs. (You may need to oil your hands to prevent mixture from sticking.) Slide 5 meatballs onto each of 6 metal skewers.

3. Preheat broiler, with rack in top third of oven. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Broil skewers on baking sheet until just cooked through and deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

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Fava Bean and Goat Cheese Dip with Radishes

Fava beans and radishes, two colorful harbingers of spring, combine in this brightly flavored appetizer.

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds fava beans, shelled
1/2 cup soft goat cheese (4 ounces)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
1 bunch radishes, halved if large

1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook fava beans until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer to ice-water bath. Let cool. Drain, and peel beans.

2. Pulse beans, goat cheese, oil, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until just combined but still chunky, about 6 or 7 times. Stir in water. Add an additional tablespoon water if mixture is too thick. Transfer to a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Sprinkle with pepper just before serving. Serve with radishes.

Lemony White-Bean Hummus

Serve this creamy, citrusy twist on traditional hummus with baby carrots, sugar snap peas, radishes, and other tender spring vegetables.

1 can (15 ounces) white beans, such as cannellini, drained, 2 tablespoons liquid reserved
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove
Coarse salt

1. Puree beans, tahini, lemon juice, oil, and garlic in a food processor until smooth, adding reserved bean liquid as needed to thin hummus to attain desired consistency. Season generously with salt.

Herb-Cheese Palmiers

The classic French confection gets a savory makeover with Parmesan, Cheddar, and your choice of fresh herbs folded up in a sheet of puff pastry.

1 sheet thawed puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, and oregano)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 sheet thawed puff pastry to a 10-by-16-inch rectangle. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cheddar, Parmesan, herbs, and salt. Fold dough lengthwise into thirds (like a letter), then fold in half. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Cut dough crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (you should have about 38).

2. Place slices on 2 large baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. (To store, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, up to 1 day.) In a bowl, combine egg yolk with water. Brush tops of palmiers with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Creamy Spinach and Sweet-Onion Dip With Crudites

Watercress, Greek yogurt, and lemon zest give traditional spinach dip a spring awakening. Avocado replaces mayonnaise for a dose of healthy fats and lends a creamy green hue.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces (6 cups) fresh spinach, stemmed
1 ounce (1 cup) watercress leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, preferably Greek
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
Crudites (such as spears of English cucumber, peeled baby carrots, and trimmed radishes), for serving

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and garlic are very soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add spinach, and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Puree mixture in a food processor until smooth. Add watercress, avocado, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, hot sauce, and salt, and season with pepper. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days). Stir the dip, and serve with crudites.

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