finger foods for a crowd: goat cheese stuffed dates & green bean/asparagus bundles

Last week, my mother-in-law asked if I wouldn’t mind making some appetizers as she was having a garden party to launch her latest book. Although I responded enthusiastically, I was a bit worried since I don’t really have much experience making finger foods en masse. While I did make much of the food for our wedding 3 years ago, the day was such a gloriously happy blur that I can’t really remember much of it at all! So I did a bit of research and figured out a few things that would be cost effective and easy to prep and that would be a bit different than the cheese and fruit plates that would already be there.

The goat cheese stuffed dates were made the day before the party and the green bean and asparagus bundles the next morning before the party. They weren’t labour intensive and were actually fun to put together with my stereo turned up loud. But really, the main question was how did the garden party ladies like the appetizers? Well, let’s just say that they were quickly gobbled up and everything got rave reviews.

For the westfalian ham wraps, I do include a balsamic glaze that can be drizzled over the bundles. While I did prepare the glaze, I accidentally left it sitting on our kitchen table and only realized that I had forgotten to bring it along when we were well into the suburbs. Oops! The bundles were really tasty plain but I can only imagine that they’d be spectacular with that little drizzle of tangy-sweet goodness. For the recipes below I do use the measurements used for the garden party, but these would be really quite simple to scale down for a small dinner party.

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21 comments to “finger foods for a crowd: goat cheese stuffed dates & green bean/asparagus bundles”

  1. 1
    VeggieGirl   July 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Such cute finger-food!! :0D

  2. 2
    Fawn   July 23, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    How do you pit the dates? Do you have a special tool, or do you cut them with a knife and fish them out? I’ve gotta say that part sounds pretty labour intensive to me!

  3. 3
    kickpleat   July 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    thanks veggiegirl!

    fawn, i just used a knife to pit the dates. it’s not difficult at all since the dates are really easy to pull out (they almost fall out). i did 2 boxes worth while watching the colbert report, so it didn’t seem like work :)

  4. 4
    Bijoux   July 23, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Dates with lemony feta…wow!! I wouldn’t think to put lemon zest into the cheese but I bet it makes a world of difference AND I also like that you added pecans too! I’ve tried the same approach with tofutti cream cheese and prunes…totally addictive and so delicious. I’m going to make the date with feta one day for a hike or a picnic.

  5. 5
    Laura   July 23, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    It all looks fantastic! I loove dates and I love goat cheese, what a great combo! In fact I think I have those two things in my kitchen right now…must go check!

  6. 6
    hag   July 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I ma so glad you posted these, when you were talking about them on Sunday… I was really intrigued. Yum! I love your variation of the dates with the addition of lemon…can’t wait to try that. And the wrapped bundles…yum too! I have made a somehting simillar from a Jamie Oliver recipe … I wrap asparagus with proscuitto and then place it under the broiler…but In love your version…it looks fresher! Can’t wait to try this too!

  7. 7
    Sue   July 24, 2008 at 9:09 am

    THAT is an excellent idea to use green beans in addition to (or instead of) the asparagus. The goat cheese filling would be good on dried apricots too. And the balsamic glaze would be yummy there.

    Great ideas.

  8. 8
    cookinpanda   July 24, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Wow, these do look like quite the crowd pleasers… and I love that first picture, it’s very captivating.

  9. 9
    Cookie baker Lynn   July 24, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    What great appetizers! Very classy and tasty looking, too.

  10. 10
    kickpleat   July 24, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    mmm, i think broiling them would be awesome hag! definitely more a winter thing since turning on the oven would really suck now :)

    the lemon zest worked really well, bijoux. it gave it a lovely kick :) i bet this would be awesome with prunes!

    laura, give this a try. it’s a keeper!

    sue, the green beans are definitely a cheaper alternative! mmm, i think they’d go lovely with apricots or figs too! yum.

    thanks cookinpanda!

    thanks lynn! i think they were just the right amount of class :)

    thanks jennie! i definitely agree that pitting and shelling does legitimize time in front of the tv ;)

  11. 11
    Jennie   July 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    It all looks fabulous, dahling! A tip- when asparagus (or green beans) is out of season, you can still (almost) enjoy the same dish with bacon wrapped salsify. We actually call it the poor man’s bacon here, haha.

    Looove the dates. I buy mine pitted, but I’ve used shelling pecans for making my tv watching legit :-)

  12. 12
    Cakespy   July 25, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Oh man!! I could totally skip dinner with a plate of all of these beauties in front of me! Those stuffed dates look fantastic. I used to work at a restaurant where they made something similar, and just looking makes me almost able to taste them.

  13. 13
    eatme_delicious   July 25, 2008 at 9:24 am

    How fun to get to make up some appetizers like this! I’d love to try those dates.

  14. 14
    Sharon   July 25, 2008 at 11:14 am

    These apps look like perfect finger foods. I’d love to make the dates but I don’t know if I have the patience to slice and stuff each one. I’m sure if I had a taste, I’d change my mind. Great post!

  15. 15
    Allison Jones   July 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    yum, I love dates! I’ve been meaning to try cream cheese in dates, but goat cheese sounds even better! Great shots, I’m sure everyone loved your fingerfoods even more than I loved looking at them.

    -Oakley

  16. 16
    Jo   July 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    The stuffed dates were delicious and super easy! Thanks for the recipe.

  17. 17
    kickpleat   July 31, 2008 at 9:10 am

    cakespy, i was amazed at how easy they were to make. and just how “fancy” they tasted. mmmm.

    eatme, it was fun! the dates were pretty wonderful!

    sharon, just sit yourself down in front of some guilty tv and start slicing and stuffing. you’ll be done before you know it!

    thanks oakly!

  18. 18
    kickpleat   July 31, 2008 at 9:11 am

    jo, so glad you tried them! hooray!!

  19. 19
    Heidi   August 3, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Oh my god I’m TOTALLY going to make these for the next party I have to make food for! All sounds so yummy….I just discovered this blog, and I love it. :)

    In my Favourites now!

  20. 20
    kickpleat   August 19, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    thanks heidi! enjoy :)

  21. 21
    nancy   October 17, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Would love to toss those beans and asparagus onto the grill! (using one of those veggie ‘pans’ so they don’t fall through). I think a quick grill off would really up the flavors.

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