Hidden Gems Are the Perfect Appetizers

Extra-crunch version made with almond meal. (image: L. Weldon)
Extra-crunch version made with almond meal. (image: L. Weldon)

Life is full of appetizer moments. Parties, potlucks, birthdays, holidays, and those events that have no name but yet persistently land on the calendar as if your social life were an ongoing Doctor Who series. I’m here to offer you a panacea—an appetizer you can customize for every event. It’s crusty, savory, and durable. Better yet, you can make it in advance. Even freeze it in advance. Just imagine the culinary possibilities.  “Mmm, I wonder…Aha!”


Hidden Gem Appetizer 


Appetizer Ingredients

35 stuffed olives (garlic-stuffed olives are particularly excellent) patted dry OR other filling*

1 cup flour (white or gluten-free mix or almond flour**)

generous dash salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

dash cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups grated cheese, try sharp cheddar or gouda

2 Tablespoons butter

1 egg, beaten

dash Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce


Dip Ingredients

3/4 cups sour cream or veggie dip

2 Tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce or hot sauce



Roll olives or other chosen filling on a dish towel or paper towel to dry.

In a food processor or with a pastry cutter, mix flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Add cheese and butter, cutting in till mixture resembles crumbs. Mix in egg and sauce. If you have time, chill this mixture.

Coat a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Taking about 2 teaspoons of dough, use your hands to roll it into a rough ball, flatten the ball, then form the dough around an olive or other filling of your choice.  Place each one on the prepared pan, cover, and chill for an hour or up to two days. At this point the pan can be wrapped tightly and frozen if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake trays of appetizers until they’re golden brown and crusty, about 20 to 25 minutes. It’s best if you flip them over with a spatula halfway through the baking time.

Mix the dip ingredients. Serve appetizers hot, with dip in the middle of your serving tray. You might want to double the recipe. They warm up nicely the next day or two as well. Hidden gems really are amazing.


*Try 1″ pieces of andouille sausage, smoked tofu, cooked mushrooms, chorizo sausage, artichoke hearts, shrimp, or anything you’re inspired to roll in a pastry crust. (Cheese isn’t a satisfactory choice, sorry to say, because it likes to ooze out of the dough.)

**Almond flour is a great choice, especially for low-carb folks. The dough tends to slump a little rather than hold its shape in this recipe, but it tastes even better than the flour versions. Both pictures here show appetizers made with almond flour.


Hidden Gems, ready for the oven (image: L. Weldon)
Hidden Gems, ready for the oven (image: L. Weldon)

Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.