Nibbles — the sensual appeal of snacks & finger foods

pickled cherry tomatoes

Chef Annette TomeiEat & Tell with Chef Annette Tomei

Nibbles. The word alone draws a sensual image – delicate, playful, innocent – but not very! Be it tender earlobes, the sweet spot on your lover’s neck or flavorful tasty morsels eaten with your fingers, nibbles can be fun and satisfying in their own right or a prelude to something more substantial. Either way, life would be far less enjoyable without nibbles.

Summer is a great time for nibbles (of all varieties). There’s too much fun to be had and it’s a bit too hot to prepare elaborate meals. We crave lighter bites with tantalizing flavors that we can eat al fresco in the park, on the beach, or wherever summer may take us. Small bites are easy to prepare, easy to pack, and fun to share with a loved one while sneaking nibbles of a more personal variety!

I always keep an assortment of nibble-y foods on hand, especially during the summer when cooking for one is more trouble than a treat. My refrigerator is stocked with cheeses, hummus, pickled veggies, olives and other savory finger foods. A crusty baguette, some sliced prosciutto, and some bubbles… picnic is served!

Some other favorite nibbles (of the food variety, that is):

  • Fresh, juicy peaches that drip down my chin
  • Sweet ripe berries fresh from the farmers’ market (with a little melted chocolate maybe?)
  • Jacque Torres’ “Wicked” ice cream (chocolate with chiles) or banana rum sorbet (what a kick!)
  • Raincoast Crisps” (rosemary raisin pecan crackers) with perfectly ripe epoisses
  • Small, briny oysters served ice-cold (with some bubbly, perhaps?)
  • Picking the leaves off steamed artichokes, dipping them in lemony aioli or simple, decadent melted butter

Here’s a recipe for the easiest, most addictive pickled cherry tomatoes – you won’t be able to stop nibbling (What could be a more perfect nibble than a classic, summer aphrodisiac?)

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

pickled cherry tomatoes--perfect finger foods20 ounces rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons Sugar
2 jalapenos, split with seeds intact
1 (3-inch) piece of ginger, chopped
8 ounces water
20 cherry tomatoes, peeled

1. Bring the first six ingredients to a boil; reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Pour over the cherry tomatoes to cover. Allow to pickle for at least 1 hour or overnight.
3. Tomatoes may be stored in this liquid for up to 1 week, covered and in a refrigerator.

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