When we think about Thanksgiving, we usually think big. Big dinners, big guest lists, big main dishes, big desserts, big plates, big appetites … but this year, try thinking small, with small plates and starters.

What’s a small plate? Well, it’s sort of a mash-up between appetizers and entrées. Small plates are just like entrées but in a smaller portion. They could also be like appetizers but are a little more substantial. Small plates and starters are perfect for holiday dinners. They let you try a wide variety of dishes which is perfect for people who can’t choose between all the yummy looking entrées. Does the lasagna looks amazing, but that pot pie is also calling your name? No problem – have both!


So when you plan your big holiday dinner, try thinking smaller with these 15 small plates and starters that are not too big, not too small; they’re just the right size.

1. Mushrooms on Butternut Polenta Rounds

Mushrooms on Butternut Polenta Galletes

For a simple to make but elegant dish, try out these Mushrooms on Butternut Polenta Rounds. They are coated in seasonings and vegan Parmesan, baked, and then topped with garlicky mushrooms, a drizzle of olive oil, and plenty of fresh parsley. These unique rounds make a delicious starter for four or a main course for two.

2. Artichoke Olive Tapenade With Za’atar

Artichoke Olive Tapenade With ZaAtar

It probably doesn’t get much more Mediterranean than this Artichoke Olive Tapenade With Za’atar. Olives and artichokes were meant to be together but what really binds them is a good olive oil and a good spice mixture. Specifically, the za’atar which is made with thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds to name a few of its flavors. Serve this savory spread with toast and fresh fruit.

3. Balsamic Butternut and Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza

Balsamic Butternut and Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza

If you’re looking for the perfect small plate or starter, this autumnal Balsamic Butternut and Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza is the way to go! A crispy flatbread pizza is topped with a cornucopia of fall produce — roasted butternut squash, shaved Brussels sprouts, Shiitake mushroom bacon, and dried cranberries and then finished off with a balsamic glaze and vegan cheese.


4. Smoky Shepherd’s Pie Quesadilla

Shepherdss Pie Quesadilla

Say hello to the ultimate fall fusion food: these Smoky Shepherd’s Pie Quesadillas. They’re everything you love about shepherd’s pie — sweet potato, vegetables, and warm spices with a smoky lentil hummus — grilled between two tortillas. Don’t want tortillas? Make it as a sandwich!

5. Curried Stuffed Mushrooms

Curried Stuffed Mushrooms 2

Hollowed out mushrooms and mashed chickpeas don’t sound that amazing on their own, but put them together and you have all the makings of a delicious and unique dish – Curried Stuffed Mushrooms. In this recipe, chickpeas are blended with onions, tomato, dried currants, and raw cashew butter, seasoned with curry powder, and then stuffed into white stuffing mushrooms. Serve these on a bed of fresh spinach leaves with some pumpkin seed garnish.

6. Coconut Curry Pot Pie

Coconut Curry Pot Pie 4

These adorable Coconut Curry Pot Pies have a mild and creamy coconut curry filling and a flaky, crispy crust! Stuffed with tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and peas, these are the ultimate comfort dinner. This recipe uses fresh veggies, but for a quicker version feel free to use frozen ones to speed up the process.

7. Sweet Potato Rosti Tower

Potato Rosti Tower 1

If you have never heard of potato rosti before, you’re totally missing out! Traditionally, potato rosti is a fritter-style Swiss dish that mainly consists of potatoes. This Sweet Potato Rosti Tower takes a bit of creative liberty on the dish, swapping the base for sweet potatoes, adding veggies like zucchini, carrots, onion, and green onions, and using flax eggs to keep all of it together. While typically, rosti is enjoyed as a one layer dish, this recipe creates a tower, using cashew cream cheese between the layers to hold it together. Yum!


8. Swedish Mushroom Meatballs

Swedish Mushroom Meatballs 1

Making the perfect veggie meatball is an art and the secret is seasoning. These Swedish Mushroom Meatballs are blended with fragrant onions, garlic, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, Sriracha, savory liquid aminos, and a few other spices. After being formed and baked until crispy, these meatballs are tossed in a creamy cashew sauce which tastes amazing over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice. Yum!

9. Grilled Mushrooms With Spinach Kale Pesto

Grilled Mushrooms With Spinach Kale Pesto 2

A simple marinade made with garlic, balsamic, and Dijon lend a delicious flavor to these Grilled Mushrooms With Spinach Kale Pesto. They are then stuffed with a nutty and vibrant spinach kale pesto and topped with pine nuts. These are great as a light dinner with a big salad or served on some of my celeriac mash, cauliflower, or broccoli rice as a starter.


10. Fried Zucchini Ravioli

Fried Zucchini Ravioli 2

These Fried Zucchini Ravioli are pretty much tiny pockets of flavor heaven. Crispy on the outside with tender zucchini and gooey cheese tucked on the inside, this recipe is a winner. Forming the ravioli may seem a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze! Serve these with plenty of tomato sauce and a generous sprinkling of parsley.

11. Spiced Quinoa and Eggplant Rolls

Spiced Quinoa and Eggplant Rolls 1

Eggplant is an incredibly versatile vegetable and easily makes any dish seem that much fancier. These Spiced Quinoa and Eggplant Rolls combine two easy-to-make side dishes to create a unique appetizer and a crowd pleaser of an entree. A dollop of spiced quinoa mixed with onions and capsicum is placed on top of a piece of grilled eggplant and then rolled. Serve this warm as an entree or cold with some hummus for a starter dish.

12. Meze Layer Cake

Meze Layer Cake

Need a show-stopping dish for a party that’s sure to knock everyone’s socks off? You can go for a meze spread or you can put it all together into one awesome dish. This Meze Layer Cake starts with a pita crust, followed by roasted zucchini, tapenade, a layer of bulgur, baba ganoush, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and other savory Mediterranean ingredients, and a layer of falafel batter … you get it, it’s loaded with all the good stuff. Finally, it’s baked until warm. Doesn’t get any better than this!

13. Crispy King Trumpet Mushroom Calamari

Crispy Mushroom Calamari 1

This vegan Crispy King Trumpet Mushroom Calamari is coated in batter and deep-fried until crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It’s perfect as an appetizer, snack, beer pairing, or party food. Serve it with lemon juice and marinara if you want to enjoy it American-style or with lemon, vinegar, and parsley for the Mediterranean version.


14. Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Eggplant With Smoky Harissa

cornmeal crusted eggplant

Eggplants, tomatoes, and a smoky red sauce — this Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Eggplant with Smoky Harissa is like nachos without the chips, if you will. The crispy eggplant tastes deep-fried, yet they’re baked. They are incredibly soft on the inside with little salty crunches of cornmeal on the outside. The flavors of this harissa tomato sauce works wonders with this yummy snack.

15. Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers

Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers 5

Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers, or mirchi vada, is a popular Indian snack that is typically served with sauce or chutney. They’re spicy, comforting, and just burst with flavor in your mouth. Serve with hot sauce if you’re a spicy lover or a creamy dip if you need something to balance out the heat.

Whoever said less is more must have been talking about small plates and starters. These recipes are small in size, but big on flavor.

Lead image source: Swedish Mushroom Meatballs