Roll Up Some Canapés and Hors d’oeuvres

Canapés is practically a quaint term these days. I don’t hear it very often. It means a cracker or a small piece of bread with some savory topping on it which is served as an appetizer before the meal. Since hors d’oeuvres are, too, we get to scratch our heads momentarily while we wonder what is what. Hors d’oeuvres generally is an umbrella term for all that pre-meal stuff including canapés, crackers and cheese, vegetables and dip, hot things like meat balls, or shrimp cocktail, or grilled bites of one sort or other.

With all the different flat breads available now in stores, look at all the opportunities for a new spin on the canapés department of hors d’oeuvres. Tortillas, lavash, pita, foccacia, and naan, vary in thickness and flavor to make interesting platforms for cheese, meat, fish, and vegetables, either hot or cold.

Quite a few years ago, I picked up from my island neighbor Bonnie Hughes a terrific party offering: she spreads lavash with hummus, finely shredded carrots, and alfalfa sprouts, or flat lettuce leaves, like romaine, and rolls them up. Then to serve, she cuts them into inch wide sections. You can use this principle on lavash or even tortillas with all kinds of fillings, as long as they are spreadable and not too drippy, and then add in any pliable vegetable or meat.

If you cut them into wider sections, they would make great picnic food, giving everyone a chance to sample all kinds of fillings without having to commit to a big chunk of food.

Seeing this kind of roll-up at a graduation party recently, inspired Toby to develop a hot appetizer. He took a flour tortilla, spread it with horseradish cream cheese, grated on a little cheddar, sprinkled on chopped herbs, rolled them up, brushed them with butter, and baked them. When they became slightly browned, he cut them into bite sized pieces and we had them as hot hors d’oeuvres. Very tasty. Very simple. I suppose technically these are canapés, but I always think of canapés as flat.

As with the other roll-ups, you can make these hot little numbers with lavash, and almost any sort of spreadable cheese, like goat cheese, grated hard cheese, crumbled blue cheese, or shaved Swiss or provolone. Or you can skip cheese, and use hummus for these, too, or some other sort of spicy, savory spreadable meat or vegetable. How about sun-dried tomato spread, or pesto, or spicy peanut butter, or garlic or onion jam? If you want, square up the tortillas slightly by trimming off rounded edges. Toast the trimmings to use with dip.

Play with the idea. Have fun.

Roll-Up Canapés

Flat bread, preferably lavash


Alfalfa or other sprouts or flat-leaved lettuce

Finely grated carrots

Spread the flat bread with hummus to the edges. Distribute the sprouts and grated carrot over the bread, even to the edges, in a fairly thin layer. Lay the lettuce in a single layer over all. Roll up tightly, and with the edge of the roll-ups facing down, put them on a plate or baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, cut them into inch-wide sections and place on a serving plate with cut sides up.

Makes a variable number of servings


Hot Rolled-Up Hors d’oeuvres

Flat bread, such as lavash or flour tortillas

Spreadable cheese

Grated or crumbled cheese

Finely chopped herbs (dill, cilantro, basil, or parsley) or savory spread such as pesto

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the flat bread with the cheese, sprinkle on a different cheese, and distribute the finely chopped herbs. Roll up, and secure with a toothpick. Brush with butter or olive oil. Put on a baking pan and bake for xxx minutes, until slightly browned. To serve, cut into bite sized pieces.

Makes a variable number of servings.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.