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Cheesy grapes are easy party fare

Adoring of appetizers, I’m usually guilty of overindulging. Endless platters of savory morsels — easy to handle and eat while holding a drink — signify party perfection, in my book.

So many small bites, however, are too labor-intensive for most hosts (unless they’re professional caterers). It pays to pick and choose the ones that make the biggest impression.

Here’s a candidate for New Year’s gatherings — and occasions to come — that delivers well-balanced, complex flavors for minimal preparation, according to recipe testers for Tribune News Service. It’s akin to dates stuffed with goat cheese, just easier, given the soft cheese cradles the fruit instead of the other way around. These bites can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.

If you can spring for it, consider adding a few crumbles of blue cheese to the outside of each, before rolling in the nuts. Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue — aka “world champion cheese” — is in good supply at the Central Point cheese shop. I picked up a few wedges when it was discounted for the holidays.

Tribune News Service photo

Grapes Rolled in Goat Cheese

4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature

24 red or green seedless grapes, rinsed and patted dry

1/3 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

1/4 cup minced chives

Divide the goat cheese into 24 equal-sized balls. With your fingers, mold cheese around each of the grapes until fruit is completely covered. Keep cold.

In a small bowl, stir together the walnuts and chives. Roll each coated grape, 1 at a time, in walnut mixture until covered. Place in a single layer in a low, flat dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from “The Berghoff Family Cookbook” by Carlyn Berghoff and Jan Berghoff with Nancy Ross Ryan.