Originally created 06/18/97

Fresh fruit gives appetizers professionally catered look



Friday night company doesn't have to take a bite out of your entire day. And quick and easy doesn't mean you have to resort to chips and salsa.

For an assortment of easy hors d'oeuvres that look and taste as though they came from a caterer, reach for simple ingredients, such as fresh fruits.

Start with kebabs made from wedges of peaches, plums and nectarines. Marinate them in a blend of lemon juice and cayenne pepper to give them a surprising kick. Fruit can marinate while other dishes are being prepared.

While the kebabs are marinating, prepare a warm sourdough bruschetta with plums and basil. It should only take 15 minutes to toast a sliced baguette, spread cream cheese on the bread, and top with slices of fresh plums and fresh basil leaves.

To round out the selection of appetizers, roast some red bell peppers and cut them into six strips. Peppers can be roasted and peeled in advance as long as they are kept refrigerated in a covered bowl. Then add a mixture of diced peaches, goat cheese and sliced basil leaves. Roll each bell pepper slice and insert a toothpick to make them easy to eat.

FRUIT KEBABS

WITH LEMON AND CAYENNE

4 ripe plums, halved and pitted

4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted

4 ripe nectarines, halved and pitted

2 lemons, juiced

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mint sprigs (optional)

Cut each fruit half into thirds. Place fruit in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and cayenne pepper; mix well. Marinate for 1 hour.

On a skewer, alternate fruit wedges; chill. Garnish with mint sprig, if desired. Makes 24 kebabs.

Nutrition facts per kebab: 24 calories (8 percent calories from fat), less than 1 gram fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, less than 1 milligram sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber.

BRUSCHETTA WITH PLUMS

AND FRESH BASIL

1 sourdough baguette

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces cream cheese

2 fresh plums

1 cup fresh basil

Slice baguette into 24 1/4 -inch-thick pieces. Brush with olive oil; toast in a 350-degree oven until golden brown. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese. Slice plums into thin slices. Place a plum on each bruschetta. Garnish with fresh basil leaf. Makes 24 bruschetta.

Nutrition facts per bruschetta: 58 calories (47 percent calories from fat), 3 grams total fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 77 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein.

RED PEPPER ROLLS

4 red bell peppers

1 ripe peach, diced

6 ounces goat cheese

10 fresh basil leaves, julienned

2 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt

Fresh ground black pepper

24 toothpicks (optional)

Fire-roast red peppers over an open flame until skin blisters. Remove skin. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut each half into 3 long strips.

In a bowl, combine peach, goat cheese and basil; mix until well combined.

To assemble, place peppers flat, skin-side down. Put 1/2 teaspoon of peach mixture on one end of each red pepper slice. Roll up pepper, peach mixture will be in the center. Brush the rolled peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide a toothpick through each rolled pepper, if desired. Makes 24 red pepper rolls.

Nutrition facts per roll: 34 calories (79 percent calories from fat), 3 grams total fat, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 79 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 grams protein.

Recipes from: California Tree Fruit Agreement. For a free brochure with recipes, call, toll-free, (888) 99-RIPEN.