A farm-themed party is an opportunity to combine playful, child-friendly appetizers with more adult-oriented starters that celebrate the variety of flavors of farm life. When you're building a farm-themed appetizer menu, fresh ingredients, playful takes on classic options and clever presentations elevate your dishes.
Garden and Crop Platters
When you're preparing party platters, arrange the foods in little rows or organized clusters to resemble crops or flower gardens for guests to pick from. Alternating rows of rectangular crackers and cheese cubes will resemble a bird's eye view of a corn or wheat field. For a little more color, opt for a more creative garden display of vegetables and fruits. Color-code your vegetables and fruits into groups on a large tray or table. Mark off "walking paths" between the garden patches with small cups of creamy dressings, peanut butter, vegetable spread or hummus for dipping. Add in accent "flowers" by carving petals into cucumbers, radishes or slices of apple.
Farm Animal Shapes and Bites
Even the simplest appetizers can get the farm-theme treatment with animal and barnyard cookie cutters. Serve up a tiered tray of finger sandwiches made with fresh ingredients such as hummus and sprouts, cucumber and ranch-seasoned cream cheese, or avocado guacamole and sliced turkey. Skip the standard triangles, and use farm animal cookie cutters to create barnyard sandwich shapes. Miniature pizzas made from refrigerated bread dough, canned tomato sauce or creamy dressing, and fresh farm vegetables are tasty treats, but cut the dough with large barnyard cookie cutters before baking. Invite your kids to arrange pizza ingredients on the dough shapes for an interactive kitchen activity.
Farm Animal Foods
Farm animals such as pigs, chickens and cows provide inspiration for farm-themed finger foods. Make pigs-in-a-blanket by wrapping cocktail hot dogs in refrigerated bread dough along with bacon, cheese or ham before baking them in the oven. Serve chicken fingers or nuggets alongside dipping sauces such as ranch, honey or barbecue sauce -- any long, rectangular platter serves as a mock "feed trough" for the sauces. Instead of serving up hamburgers as a nod to barnyard cows, create black and white crostinis in cow patterns. Spread the bread slices with white bean dip or a seasoned cream cheese spread and then add the distinctive black patches with slices of olives or dollops of tapanade.
Fun With Presentations
The easiest way to represent the farm theme in your appetizers is through clever presentations. Ditch standard bowls and ramekins for more farm-appropriate miniature pails and buckets. Portion off individual servings of chips, popcorn or party mixes into the pails for easy serving off the appetizer table. For larger items such as rolls, opt for wicker or woven baskets instead of plastic tableware. Create an entire barn display as the centerpiece of the appetizer table. Borrow a toy barn from your child's bedroom to set the stage. Create miniature animal pens with small bread sticks stuck into pieces of cheese, and keep all of your chicken nuggets or pigs-in-blankets in their own areas.
- "Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh"; Emeril Lagasse; 2010
- "Small Bites"; Jennifer Joyce; 2005
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images