Traditional Romanian appetizers: cream cheese stuffed vegetables like mini peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers, a must-have during the festive time of the year.
Typical Romanian appetizers: stuffed vegetables with cream cheese and topped with herbs and olives. Decorated in a truly kitchy manner.
Romanian people do love their appetizers. Lots of salami, ham and cheese rolls, stuffed vegetables, spreads, and different kinds of nibbles, everything so tasty and laborious to make sometimes, one could spend hours and whole days in the kitchen preparing appetizers for a party.
And the best opportunity to have lots and lots of different and delicious appetizers are weddings. There are uncountable different courses to be eaten at a Romanian wedding, but if you ask me the appetizers are the best.
There are several reasons for that: first of all, they are really delicious. Then they are the first course to be served, so after hours spent in the church on your feet and never-ending photo sessions you are actually pretty hungry when you get them.
Then they are something special, not something you would make at home very often. And anyway, after eating the appetizers and a nice soup, you really don't care much about the next courses, at least I never really did. And when it comes to cakes I don't think I have ever tasted any cake at a Romanian wedding. One is so full by the time the cakes come...
These cream cheese stuffed vegetables are super easy and quick to make. That is why they are not only served at weddings, but they are also very often homemade. They are a great addition to the Easter brunch alongside the Deviled Eggs with Tuna and Mayonnaise for instance.
Please don't judge the kitschiness of my pictures. Romanian appetizers are supposed to look as kitschy (and quite ridiculous sometimes) as possible. It is just their nature.
Romanian people do have a predilection for kitsch when decorating food and I cannot ignore that when making these recipes myself, kitsch is a must, otherwise, they are just not genuine enough. 🙂
You should have seen my grandmother's Boeuf Salad, she normally could not care less about decorating food, but when she made that salad for Easter or Christmas she would get into a decorating frenzy. Perfectly smooth and yellow mayonnaise, flowers made of olives and pickled paprika slices, trimmed parsley leaves, perfectly cut egg slices, I am telling sheer decorating madness!
How to make?
- Clean and prepare your veggies: cut the upper side of the tomatoes and carefully remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Let drain, upside down, on kitchen paper while you prepare the rest.
- Thickly slice the cucumber.
- Halve the mini peppers leaving the stem attached. Remove the seeds.
- You can stuff all the veggies with the same mixture or divide the cream cheese and feta mixture into three batches and season each batch differently.
- For the tomatoes, I added some mayo, basil, and anchovies.
- I topped the cucumbers with a mixture enriched with olive oil, dill, and garlic.
- To stuff the mini peppers I added mayonnaise, sweet paprika, and parsley to the mixture.
How to serve?
Chill the stuffed vegetables for about 2 hours before serving. You can also make them in the morning and serve them in the evening but they are at their best on the day you made them.
More Romanian appetizers:
Cream Cheese Stuffed Vegetables - Romanian Appetizers
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes or 4 smaller ones
- 1 medium cucumber
- 4 mini peppers
- 450 g/ 1 lb/ 2 cups cream cheese Philadelphia or similar
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz feta cheese
- fine sea salt and pepper
- For the tomatoes:
- 2 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 5 large basil leaves
- 2 anchovy fillets
- For the cucumbers:
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- a few sprigs dill
- For the mini peppers:
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- a few sprigs parsley
- olives more herbs and sweet/hot paprika for the garnish
- Cut the upper side of the tomatoes, carefully scoop out the seeds, and the flesh of the tomatoes. Place upside down on kitchen paper and let drain while you prepare the rest.
- Slice the cucumber into slices, about 1 cm/ 0.4 inch thick.
- Half the mini peppers lengthwise leaving the green stalks attached. Remove the seeds.
- Place the cream cheese and crumbled feta into a bowl and process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide this mixture into three parts and place each batch in a separate small bowl.
- Tomatoes: add the mayonnaise, torn basil, and anchovies to the first cheese batch. Blend again until smooth. Fill the tomatoes with this mixture.
- Cucumbers: add the grated garlic clove, olive oil, and chopped dill to the second cheese batch. Mix or blend again and pipe the mixture on each cucumber slice.
- Mini peppers: add the sweet paprika, chopped parsley, and mayonnaise to the third cheese batch. Mix well and fill the peppers with this mixture.
- You can fill or top the veggies with a teaspoon or you can pipe the filling. If you don't have a piping bag, fill the cheese mixture in a freezing bag, cut a small hole in one corner of the bag, and use that for piping.
- Decorate with sliced olives and more herbs. Sprinkle with sweet or hot paprika. Chill until ready to serve.
- You can serve the appetizers with crackers, grissini, crispbread, etc.