Appetizers can be called many things - Starters, Entrees or Hors D'Oevres. Whatever you choose to call them, these vegetarian appetizer recipes make an impressive first course to your meal.
Appetizers can be used as part of a formal meal or served (as a canapé) with drinks at a cocktail or drinks party - or even used as finger food as part of a buffet.
Why have a starter or appetizer at the beginning of a meal? Traditionally appetizers were served to whet the appetite (hence the name) and to tantalise the dinner guests whilst the chef was busy working on the main course. In today's more informal dining culture, a three course meal is no longer the expected social norm. However, the addition of an appetizer to a home dinner party can make the meal feel more special and luxurious.
What makes a good starter? It is important that the dish is relatively light and simple. The aim is that this course leaves the diner wanting more and ready for their main course - they shouldn't be full up yet! Try to match the first course with the cuisine of the main course - for example if the main course is an Italian pasta dish, consider a light tomato, basil and mozzarella salad (also typical of Italy) as an appetizer. Of course, don't repeat the main ingredients of the first course in the second (main) course. If you are serving a pastry based pie for your main course, don't go with a pastry tart for the appetizer / starter. Ideally an appetizer can be made in advance to free up the cook to chat to guest when they arrive (or at least should only require minimal last minute preparation)
Soups can also make a great appetizer, but remember that soup should be served in smaller portions than you would if you were having it as the main meal - you don't want a starter to fill you up. If you fancy being a bit quirky - try serving your soup in a large shot glass!
One final idea for an informal and sociable vegetarian appetizer recipe is to create a sharing boards. These are very popular with large groups of guests in restaurants and can easily be recreated at home. Choose several small complimentary dishes of a cuisine and serve them all together on a large platter or wooden board in the centre of the table. This works especially well with European / Mediterranean dishes such as Greek, Italian or Spanish food, and allows the cook to cater for many different dietary requirements in one appetizer.