Valentine’s (or Any Other) Day Appetizers (Paleo, AIP)

It’s in the air. And the stores. And the sappy Hallmark cards you buy because that’s what you do this time of year. As St. Valentine’s Day approaches, our thoughts inevitably turn to love. Not to take away from those of you who enjoy the warm fuzzies that Valentine’s Day brings, but I’m not a huge fan of this “holiday”. I’d rather someone show me love 365 days of the year, not go out of their way with unnecessary (and often outrageously expensive) displays one day of the year. But you do you. And maybe some of these paleo appetizers, too.

To be honest, Scott and I typically don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day. I don’t even remember the last time we got each other cards to mark the occasion. To change things up, we are celebrating this year! This year, Valentine’s Day, or more specifically, the day after Valentine’s Day, marks Scott’s first payday since early 2014 when he was laid-off. It has been a long, hard battle, between his unemployment and dealing with my health issues and walking a very tight financial line for almost a year. But we have been so blessed by the friends in our life and the Lord’s provision. There were days when I had no idea how we were going to make it, but, with some Divine provision, we did and we’re stronger for it.

Scott got the call just days before his employment insurance ran out. I look back at it all and it still amazes me just how perfectly it all worked out. So let the celebration begin! During his time off, Scott promised me a lobster dinner to celebrate the end of his unemployment. The frugal part of me cringed at the idea of paying a restaurant a significant overhead to do something we could just as easily do at home, so we settled on a celebratory seafood feast at home.

Here’s the menu:

  • Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops
  • Coconut Shrimp Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Lobster with Garlic “Butter”
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
  • Cherry Carob Tart (adapted from the Mango Carob Tart recipe at Unconventional Baker – All I did was substitute frozen cherries for the frozen mangoes and skip the toppings. Scott had been requesting this recipe ever since he first saw the original last fall)

I thought I would share a few of the recipes with you that could easily double as AIP/paleo-friendly appetizers for any party or casual get-together.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops

Paleo Appetizers

These were a hit from our Christmas Eve hors d’ouevres. Costco carries a lovely prosciutto that is imported from Italy and the only ingredients are pork and salt. I find prosciutto much easier to work with than bacon, especially for projects like this. And the flavour is much more delicate, complimenting the scallops well, rather than overpowering them as bacon tends to do. When I finally work up the nerve to make my own homemade fermented fish sauce, I am looking forward to trying it with these scallops!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4-6 large sea scallops, thawed
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto can double if you like meaty scallops

Instructions

  • Cut prosciutto slices in half lengthwise. Wrap a half slice around each scallop, securing with a toothpick. If you really want the pork flavour to pop, you can use a whole slice on each scallop. Just fold it in half lengthwise and then wrap the scallop as usual.
  • Place wrapped scallops on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper). Turn your oven to broil and place the top rack on the second level from the top. Once the oven is heated, place the baking sheet on the top rack.
  • Broil for about 10 minutes, or until scallops are cooked (opaque white). Keep a careful eye on them because over-cooked scallops are rubbery.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Paleo Appetizers

With the bulk of my culinary effort going into the Cherry Carob Tart, I wanted to keep the rest of the meal delicious but easy. These sweet potato wedges are a great side dish that takes limited time and effort to prepare, also making them ideal for a quick and easy weeknight side. They are great on their own, or you can pair them with a creamy avocado dipping sauce. If you want to jazz it up for another time of year, you can use Pumpkin Spice on them instead of cinnamon.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Course: Appetizer

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut in wedges lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp melted lard or avocado oil lard gives a crispier skin than the avocado oil
  • salt, to taste
  • cinnamon, to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375F (400F if you are closer to sea level than I am)
  • Toss sweet potato wedges with lard/oil, salt, and cinnamon. Arrange on a backing sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender. You will want to turn the wedges about halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Coconut Shrimp Salad

Paleo Appetizers

Our meals are rarely complete without a salad. When it comes to celebratory salads, I really like a nice baby spinach base and lots of colourful toppings.

Coconut Shrimp Salad

Course: Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups baby spinach greens
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut or coconut flakes, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1-2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded goat gouda (optional) can replace with dairy-free cheese of choice
  • 1 can cocktail shrimp, drained

Instructions

  • Fill salad bowl with baby spinach.
  • Decoratively top with remaining ingredients.
  • Dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

What are your plans this Valentine’s Day? A special meal coming your way? A surprise from a sweety? Or favourite paleo appetizers? Feel free to share!

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