I love to cook and doing dinner for my friends is a real favourite activity but while I’m great with mains and desserts, I often struggle to think of good starting dishes. To me, the first course shouldn’t be too filling, should quite easy to make, and should taste delicious. I’ve gone through my recipe collection and made a list of 7 great starters to help all of you out there who might have the same creative block as me
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Refreshing Mint, Lime and Melon Salad
Since the top half of the world if getting ready for summer, I thought I’d lead with this extremely simple, refreshing summer salad starter. All you’ll need are two or three galia melons (depending on how many people you’re serving) chopped into slices, the juice of two limes, sea salt and pepper and a handful of chopped mint leaves. Preparation couldn’t be easier: throw all the ingredients into a bowl and make sure the melon is well coated in lime juice and seasoning. Leave to infuse for about forty minutes and serve.
Another very easy and really tasty recipe: this one is light and delicious, but needs to be made with good quality ingredients. You’ll need about a dozen fresh plum tomatoes (more if you’re serving a lot of people), a glug of olive oil, basil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic and some fresh ciabatta for your bruschetta. Chop the tomatoes and place in a bowl with the basil, olive oil, lemon, garlic and seasoning. Mix together and leave to rest. Brush your sliced ciabatta with olive oil and garlic and toast on baking sheets in the oven until golden. Once the bread is crisp, carefully spoon the tomato mix on top of it, plate up, and enjoy.
Sesame Salmon Crostini
For this quick, warm starter you’ll need a fillet of salmon, thinly-sliced, olive-oil-brushed, toasted, seasoned slices of your favourite crostini bread, sesame oil, chopped chilli and coriander and rice-wine vinegar. Before you begin, mix a dose of sesame oil with vinegar chilli and chopped coriander in small bowl. Slice the salmon into thin strips and in a hot pan toss the fish together with the prepared oil mixture. Serve with warm crostini: delicious!
Pan Fried Prawns and Salsa Verde
To do this tasty sea food starter you’ll need peeled prawns to serve however many guests you’re expecting, paprika, chilli and olive oil. To make the salsa, finely chop capers, olives, parsley and dill; mix together, add a dash of lemon juice and one of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a hot pan, fry off your prawns with the paprika, chilli and olive oil until they’re tender and cooked through. Serve with a chilled dry white for maximum effect.
Tomato, Bacon and Goat’s Cheese Tartlets
Literally, this starter couldn’t be easier. It involves puff pastry which, if you can’t be bothered to make yourself, it’s quicker and easier to buy at the shops. Other ingredients include halved cherry tomatoes, small squares of bacon or pancetta, goat’s cheese (use feta if you’re not a fan), olive oil and some chopped basil. Roll out your pastry, prick all over with a fork and cut into squares. Pinch the edges of these so they curl up and bake them blind for a few minutes until they’re just crisp. On each square place an assortment of tomato, cheese and bacon; sprinkle with basil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put these under the grill until the cheese is melting and the tomatoes are looking sufficiently wrinkled. Voila: tasty tartlet starters.
Quick Potato Salad with Pancetta
You’ll need baby potatoes, boiled in salted water, some good quality, finely sliced pancetta, a squeeze of lemon juice, parsley and either a tangy, home-made mayonnaise or a tub of crème fraiche. Add the lemon juice and mayo or crème fraiche to the potatoes along with the parsley and mix together until thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and plate up with the delicious, smokey pancetta.
Beetroot, Feta and Fig Salad
You’ll need freshly boiled beetroot slices, an assortment of your favourite salad leaves, some good-quality feta, olive oil, lemon juice, about four figs cut into wedges and a good glug of balsamic. Toss all the ingredients together making sure your liquid ingredients are evenly coating the leaves, figs and beetroot. Season with salt and pepper and serve with extra olive oil and balsamic on the stable for those keen to add more.
This is my list of 7 great starter recipes: do you have any favourites of your own to add?
Top Photo Credit: *Zoha.N
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