Pumpkin Crostini

Photo: Guy Ambrosino

Crostini That Borrows from a Classic Dessert
Canned pumpkin may be indispensable for pies, muffins and breads, but we've found a surprisingly new use for it: on toast with pre-dinner drinks. This no-fuss recipe involves blending pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, olive oil and a clove of roasted garlic in the food processor until smooth, then spreading a dollop of the sweet and savory spread on pieces of bread. Garnishes such as pine nuts, pecans, bacon or Parmesan are optional over-the-top touches.

Get the recipe: Pumpkin Crostini
Spiced nuts

Photo: Peden + Munk

An Easy Way to Liven Up a Cheese Plate
Roasting your own spiced nuts isn't just a simple way to round out a basic cheese plate. It also makes your home smell warm and toasty—as if you've been baking cookies all day; when in reality, you tossed a few cups of mixed nuts with sugar, salt, dried herbs and spices with a mixture of honey, molasses and orange zest and baked it for a half hour. The spicy, savory snack is perfect for munching along with a cocktail or glass of wine.

Get the recipe: Spicy Candied Nuts
Piquillo Peppers with Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Photo: Con Poulos

Canned Tuna's Other Calling
Tuna is a tried-and-true pantry sandwich filler—but it also happens to be a savory, hearty appetizer ingredient too. Buy top-quality tuna packed in olive oil, and stuff it into jarred, roasted Spanish piquillo peppers for a lovely accompaniment to sangria or Cava.

Get the recipe: Piquillo Peppers with Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Smoky Paprika-Baked Garbanzo Beans Recipe

Photo: Thinkstock

A Non-Hummus Way to Use Chickpeas
It's true that chickpeas are terrific whizzed into a puree for dips; but if you rinse them, dry them and roast them, they turn into addictive snacks: crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. You can flavor them with any spice you like; this recipe calls for smoked paprika and onion powder, but we also like cinnamon and sugar, or cumin, chili and cayenne.

Get the recipe: Smoky Paprika-Baked Garbanzo Beans
Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini

Photo: Colin Ericson

The Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta Alternative
Sun-dried tomatoes are like little flavor bullets; their concentrated tomato-ness is a perfect match for tangy goat cheese (though you could even use plain cream cheese). Spread the mixture on a toasted baguette or slices of bell pepper.

Get the recipe: Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Crostini
Chickpea Fries

Photo: Coral Von Zumwalt

A Convincing Reason to Stock Up on Chickpea Flour
Next time you're at the health food store, pick up a bag of chickpea flour. Made from ground chickpeas and common in Middle Eastern cooking, it gives these fries—which are also made with cornmeal and herbs—their crisp edge.

Get the recipe: Chickpea Fries
Smoky Black Bean Dip

Photo: John Kernick

Black Bean Dip Minus the Weird Ingredients
A classic Super Bowl food, black bean dip has come a long way from the canned variety. This quick homemade version gets a smoky edge from chipotle chilies in adobo sauce.

Get the recipe: Smoky Black Bean Dip
Tomato tart

Photo: Thinkstock

Another Go-To Use for Plum Tomatoes
Chefs have turned us on to the beauty of canned San Marzano tomatoes, but it turns out that these most flavorful plum varieties have another use aside from the easy weeknight pasta sauce: You can layer them onto this easy tart and bake it for an impressive-looking, toasty hors d'oeuvre.

Get the recipe: Pantry Tomato Tart
Chickpea spread

Photo: Con Poulos

A Chickpea Spread (with No Tahini in Sight)
A vegetarian spin on foie gras, this spread consists of caramelized onions, capers, Vin Santo (a dessert wine, though you could use a sweet Riesling too) and two cans of chickpeas. It's decadent on top of toasted brioche.

Get the recipe: Faux Gras

Photo: Thinkstock

The Anytime-of-Day Walnut Bite
Walnuts and toasted baguette bring crunch, Gorgonzola adds a salty tang, and honey finishes this crostini off with a sweet note, making the recipe just as suitable for dessert as it is for a predinner snack.

Get the recipe: Crostini with Gorgonzola, Honey and Walnuts
Devils on horseback

Photo: Thinkstock

A Sublime Transformation for Medjool Dates
Four ingredients—dates, blue cheese, bacon and balsamic vinegar—and 10 minutes in the oven is all that stands between you and the melty, salty, sweet snack known as Devils on Horseback.

Get the recipe: Devils on Horseback
Mango chutney

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Mango Chutney's Newest Partner
It doesn't get any easier than placing a log of goat cheese on a serving plate, pouring a jar of mango chutney over the top and garnishing the dish with fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve with flatbread or popadams, traditional Indian crackers.

Get the recipe: Goat Cheese Log with Mango Chutney and Cilantro
White beans

Photo: Thinkstock

A White Bean Dish That's More Salsa Than Spread
White bean puree has become an increasingly popular stand-in for hummus on buffet tables. But this chunky dip, which also includes rosemary and chopped tomatoes, leaves the beans whole, which adds texture; guests can scoop everything up with a cracker or pita chip.

Get the recipe: White Beans with Rosemary, Chopped Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Photo: Thinkstock

The Red Kidney Bean Nachos Where No One Will Miss the Meat
The ultimate comfort-food appetizer, nachos are infinitely customizable. Adding kidney beans is a good way to give them some heft without having to stand over the stove sautéing ground beef while your friends help themselves to a second margarita.

Get the recipe: Baked Nachos

Next: 16 one-bite appetizers