Even when the weather’s not cooperating, it’s still pleasant to sit outside and enjoy a few bites to eat. This month’s Recipe ReDux challenge is Small Plates for Sunny Days. We’re serving up a couple of lightened up tea sandwiches that will go well with tea, but also with your favorite adult beverage.
Our tea sandwiches were served on the porch. It wasn’t raining when I took the photos but we were definitely in danger of a sprinkle! Nevertheless, warmer temperatures made for an agreeable time and sunny days are right around the corner… The inspiration for the tea sandwiches came from a pair of appetizers served at my sister’s wedding waaaay back in 1994 or so. The first was a finely chopped Waldorf salad served in a short piece of cut celery. The second was a lemon and dill cream cheese piped onto cucumber slices. The preparation of each filling was simple, but it was a bit fussy to pipe the cream cheese and spoon the Waldorf salad into a couple hundred pieces of celery. Luckily the caterer, my mom, had plenty of extra hands to help.
Both of the original fillings have been lightened up with a simple ingredient substitution. Greek yogurt stood in for mayonnaise in the case of the Waldorf salad, and Neufchâtel took the place of full fat cream cheese in the lemony dill cucumber sandwiches. I used a party loaf of bread for the cucumber sandwiches and the thinnest slices of whole wheat bread I could find for the Waldorf salad. You could omit the bread altogether if you’d prefer. Both fillings are great on crackers, dipped up with a pretzel, or turned into a lettuce wrap.
These are customizable, small batch recipes suitable for two hungry people or four with the addition of another appetizer. I recommend serving pretzels and your choice of the cashew cheese, radish raita or pomegranate mint chutney found in this post.
- 1 fist sized Granny Smith or other tart apple, grated and then chopped again (about a cup)
- small handful of raisins, finely chopped
- small handful pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- zest of ½ lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
- 2 tablespoons plain, non fat Greek yogurt (more or less to suit the volume of apple)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ounces low fat Neufchâtel style cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill weed
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- thinly sliced cucumber (I used the low seeded English style)
- Thinly sliced bread, any type you like. (I used a popular brand's wheat bread)
- 1 loaf "party bread", any type you like (I used rye, but would have preferred pumpernickel)
- After grating the apple, chop the shreds until very fine. Transfer to a medium bowl and combine with the other ingredients. Add enough Greek yogurt to hold the salad together, then add more if desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Soften the neufchâtel cheese by leaving it at room temperature for a half hour. You want to be able to easily mix the lemon and dill into it and spread it on the bread without tearing. If necessary use the microwave to soften it, but avoid the temptation to nuke it for more than 30 seconds at a time. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Stir in the lemon, lemon zest and chopped fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand while slicing the cucumbers.
- Use a sharp knife or mandolin to slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can.
- Spread the Waldorf salad on your favorite bread or cracker.
- For the cucumber sandwiches, spread the lemony dill cheese on each slice of party bread and layer the cucumber slices on top. Put the two halves together and cut on the diagonal.
- If not serving right away, cover the sandwiches and store in the fridge. (I stored and served mine from a lidded glass baking dish).
Without the mayonnaise, the flavors of the apple and raisins really come through in the Waldorf salad, and the lemon adds a brightness that will everyone will appreciate. Naturally, those of a more omnivorous bent could add chopped or shredded chicken for a kicked up chicken salad filling. The lemony cream cheese was wonderful with the dill, but as you know, both lemon and cucumber work well with mint and thyme. Feel free to substitute.
Please take some time to visit the other Recipe ReDux bloggers. You’ll love their great ideas for small plates and finger foods suitable for dining al fresco.