Appetizers, starters, hor d'oeuvres, small plates...there are a number of different ways to describe what is either an introduction to the main meal or little bites more meant for nibbling alongside drinks. One thing is for sure, they don't have to play second fiddle to mains - often I think they can be just as interesting, if not better!
Some different kinds and favorites you might like to try include:
Perfect for cold days, soups make a fantastic start to a meal (as well as light lunch). Many of them are quick and easy to make, can be made ahead and are also easily adaptable.
Our family favorites include Scotch broth (a simple vegetable and barley broth-based soup), avgolemono soup (a Greek lemon chicken and rice or orzo soup) and German pancake soup (because pancakes in soup!).
At the other end of the spectrum are salads, that don't have to be a plain old pile of greens. Try favorites as diverse as prosciutto salad with peach and mozzarella, asparagus salad with pancetta and pea shoots, and my winter take on fattoush salad.
Sometimes you just need to eat with your hands, and while not everything I have in this category might be considered elegant eating, it's certainly delicious! You'll find easy bites like chorizo cheese twists, and cultural classics like blistered Padron peppers and cauliflower pakora.
Plus try one of the many other ideas below.