I love the ritual behind a big meal, but some nights I want to make dinner fun and less structured. A well-balanced meal doesn’t always mean serving an entrée, vegetable and a side dish. On those nights when I want something in between yet filling, I go with small bites like tapas or crostini. It’s a great option for picky eaters, as you can make a few of everyone’s favorite. By making a variety, you can also get a good amount of protein, vegetables and even fruit into your kids’ diets, too.
Make it interactive and set the toppings out family-style: Serve them with a basket of toasted bread for a build-your-own crostini bar. Put a Mexican twist on the theme and create a taco bar spread, swapping in mini tortilla chips for the toasted bread. To make your own homemade tortilla chips, cut flour tortillas into triangles or use a cookie cutter to form them into fun shapes. Place the shapes onto an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.
For more traditional crostini and tapas ideas, here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started:
Jennifer Perillo is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her recipes and tips for feeding families homemade meals are a regular feature in Working Mother magazine, where she’s the consulting food editor, as well Relish Magazine, Parenting, Kiwi and her blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen.