I have developed a bit of an obsession with finger food. I don’t know what it is, I just love the challenge of making bite sized versions of everyday dishes.
At parties, it always seems much harder to say no to appetizers. Many dieters would balk at the offering of a large hamburger, but bring past a tray of mini burgers and they can’t help take one (or two!).
My love for finger food began when I first moved to London. The table in my flat only sat 2, so all social gatherings had to take place in restaurants which was something I found to be extremely frustrating. I was so desperate to cook for friends that I tried to make it work, but with 8 friends sitting on the floor eating pasta off plates in their laps I realized something would have to change, especially for my carpets sake. And so began my obsession with finger food. No large tables, plates or cutlery needed, it really is the easiest option for entertaining large groups of people in small spaces.
In the coming months I will post many more of my mini dishes, but for today, I present you with these Caeser Salad Parmesan Cups. How cute are these? Perfect for serving to large groups, everything can be made in advance, including the parmesan cups which should be stored in the fridge to ensure they remain crisp. I added chicken to the salad but to provide variety as well as to meet guests dietary requirements you could also serve some with hard boiled egg or prawns. I recommend doubling the recipe, because everyone’s favourite salad in finger food size is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup diced pancetta/bacon
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
To make the dressing, place all of the above dressing ingredients in a blender or hand held mixer and blend until well combined. Pour into a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to use (this can be made a few hours ahead)
Although its a bit more time consuming, I recommend making the parmesan cups in batches of 2-3 at a time as you have to work quickly with them when they come out of the oven
To make the cups, place 2 tbsp sized mounds of grated parmesan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make sure that the mounds are at least 2 inches apart. Flatten the parmesan mounds out to form circles approximately 3 inches wide in size.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes until parmesan begins to bubble and turn golden in colour
Remove from the oven and working quickly, peel each circle off of the tray and press into a muffin tin to form cups. Use a spoon to flatten the bottom of the cups and ensure all of the corners are pressed in.
If the parmesan circles begin to harden and become difficult to shape return them to the tray and place back in the oven for another 30 seconds or so to make them soft and more pliable.
Repeat with the remainder of the parmesan. This should make approximately 8-10 parmesan cups
While each batch of parmesan is cooking in the oven, you can multi task by cooking the diced pancetta and chicken. For the chicken I like to cook it in a pan with a bit of oil, garlic and dried Italian herbs but feel free to cook however you choose. Once chicken is cooked cut into small bite sized pieces
Try not to assemble the dish until right before serving to ensure the parmesan cups don't lose their crispness from the salad dressing.
In a bowl toss the lettuce with the dressing, chicken and pancetta pieces (you may not need to use all of the dressing). Fill each cup with the salad. Enjoy!