Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Quick Thanksgiving Appetizers

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert

Endive with Gorgonzola, Pear, and Walnuts

Endive with Gorgonzola, Pear, and Walnuts

Servings: 8


Colorful and savory, this appetizer is easy to make. Serve these tasty bites at a cocktail party or as a prelude to your Thanksgiving party. You can substitute any creamy cheese or crème fraîche for the Gorgonzola.


1/2 cup walnuts

2 heads Belgian endive

4 firm but ripe pears, such as Bosc

6 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature

Frisée leaves for garnish


Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour the walnuts onto a plate and let cool, then chop coarsely. Separate the leaves of the endives. Choose about 40 of the pale ivory to light green inner leaves (reserve the others for another use). Halve and core the pears, then finely chop. Spread a teaspoonful of the cheese on the base of each endive leaf. Top with a little pear, a sprinkle of nuts and a few frisée leaves. Serve immediately.


Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus

Serves 6


1 pound diced fresh pumpkin, peel removed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 head garlic, the pointy end cut off by about ¼ inch to expose the cloves

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2-3 tablespoons homemade tahini paste or store bought

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup for just a touch of flavor

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon salt

Roasted pumpkin seeds, olive oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon for decoration

Red and yellow peppers strips for dipping, along with preferred crackers or toasted pita bread


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss together the pumpkin, oil and cumin. Spread the pieces out on a lined cookie sheet and add the head of garlic. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the edges of the pumpkin and garlic have become a little blackened. Place the pumpkin, garlic and garbanzo beans in a food processor along with the tahini, olive oil, maple syrup, lemon and salt. Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil as necessary. Add more tahini, maple syrup and salt to taste. Scoop into a serving bowl drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with some pumpkin seeds and a touch of cinnamon. Serve with peppers, chips, crackers or toasted pita bread. You may use the carved pumpkin as an alternative for display.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking, School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog

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