This post is about one of my favorite topics – healthified party food.
Why is party food always so freaking heavy? My guess is that party-planning is so stressful for most people they use time-tested favorite recipes and old stand-by’s to make sure that their guests are happy and satisfied.
Well, I am out to change that. Let’s lighten it up and not LOSE any flavor.
My husband and I were recently lucky enough to get invited to dinner at another food blogger’s home. Now, when food bloggers get together to serve each other food, there is a certain amount of pressure that naturally ensues. Par for the course, right?
My friend went all out, delivering a decadent and delicious meal appropriate of any food blog worth its salt.
She served a Filet Mignon with a Red Wine and Mushroom Sauce, Souffléd Mac & Cheese and Caesar Salad (with both homemade dressing and croutons, of course). It really was a perfect Fall dinner with even more wonderful company!
She told me ahead of time that she was planning a rich meal and since I was going to bring a starter, I wanted it to be light for balance and still pack a punch of flavor.
This easy little bite is a perfect example of what party food can be. Delicious, light, complex, easy and accessible.
I combined the crunch and sweetness of sweet, baby bell peppers with some wild-caught Oregon Pink Shrimp (which by the way, usually come already cooked) lightly tossed with my Lightened Up Basil Pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a bit of crushed red pepper flakes.
A perfect 1 Point party bite.
- If you don’t have access to Wild Oregon Shrimp, ask your fish person for sustainable, tiny shrimp. They usually come cooked, which is a major time saver. If you can’t find that substitute, get the smallest sustainable shrimp you can (hopefully already peeled and cleaned), quickly boil, roughly chop and let cool a bit before using).
- If you substitute commercial pesto, make sure to re-calculate the Points Plus. You may not need the olive oil as many commercial pesto’s are a bit oilier than my Lightened Up version. The purpose of the oil is to help the pesto spread and easily coat the shrimp.
- These store great. Feel free to make early in the day of the evening you plan to serve them. Just leave the chopped herbs off and top right before plating.
If some of the peppers don’t rest flat on your counter or serving tray, turn them over and carefully slice a thin, lengthwise slice off the bottom where they should rest flat. Do this while trimming the ribs and seeds and before stuffing and be sure not to slice so much that you open the cavity of the bottom. I took photos of this step for you but they came out blurry so I hope these instructions make sense. For what its worth, I only had to do this to 5 of the 24 I made.
- 1 pound (approx 12) sweet baby bell peppers, washed, split lengthwise and cleaned
- 1 pound Bay Shrimp (I used Wild-Caught Oregon Pink Shrimp - they are tiny)
- 6 tablespoons Lightened Up Basil Pesto
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- squeeze lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- chopped basil or parsley for serving
- Begin by preparing the baby sweet peppers. Clean and slice in half lengthwise splitting the green stems and leaving in tact. This makes them easy to pick up and nice for presentation. Take a paring knife and gently trim out the white ribs and seeds. Rinse and set aside to dry.
- Combine the shrimp, pesto, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Gently toss to coat and add olive oil (if using a different pesto, you may not need the additional olive oil - see NOTES)
- Spoon a bit of the filling into each pepper half so that they have a slight mound and the filling isn't flat. Refrigerate covered until read to serve. Top with fresh chopped basil or parsley, serve and Enjoy!