Start your meal off right: 12 delicious Cookilicious appetizer recipes
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Start your meal off right: 12 delicious Cookilicious appetizer recipes

All cliches about the importance of first impressions apply to appetizers. A well-executed appetizer can instantly boost the mood in the room and set the tone for the rest of your meal or party. These 12 appetizer recipes from Cookilicious are so good, while vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, and simple to make, that you won't feel a need to ever move on to the main course.

 
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Fried vegan ravioli

Fried vegan ravioli
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Turns out: you don't have to go to Olive Garden to enjoy their popular appetizer, and that's an especially important perk during a pandemic. This fried vegan ravioli is also gluten-free—using vegan Parmesan cheese—and requires just 30 minutes of your time. The accompanying dipping sauces recommended by Cookilicious' Priya Lakshminarayan are spicy vegan mayo, marinara sauce, or ketchup. 

 
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Baked bread and chutney rolls

Baked bread and chutney rolls
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

The good news about eating vegan or vegetarian is you don't have to sacrifice bread. Case in point: this baked bread and chutney rolls recipe. Feel free to use your favorite bread as your base. The dish is accentuated by soft butter, dry mustard powder, grated cheese, green chutney, and mashed potatoes.

 
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Cheesy rice vegan kebabs

Cheesy rice vegan kebabs
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

You may be catching on cheese is this slideshow's through-line, but we doubt you're complaining. Cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese—dairy or non-dairy—take center stage in this cheesy rice vegan kebabs recipe. The rice is rich in chickpea powder, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, lemon juice, onion, and more.

 
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Crispy fried onion pakoda

Crispy fried onion pakoda
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Cookilicious' Priya Lakshminarayan is keenly familiar with onion pakoda, as she calls it "one of the many famous street foods" in India. That's one reason to trust her crispy fried onion pakoda recipe. The crunchy texture is made additionally satisfying by chopped cilantro, chickpea flour, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and more.

 
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Fried besan and potato squares

Fried besan and potato squares
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Who says appetizers can't also be comfort food? This fried besan and potato squares recipe pops through chilly powder and other mixed herbs. It's certainly worth a try, especially as a mere 35-minute investment from start to finish.

 
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Semolina vegetable bites

Semolina vegetable bites
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Eating your vegetables doesn't feel as much of a chore when those veggies are dressed up in breadcrumbs. This vegan semolina vegetable bites recipe packs as much as possible into a small ball. The vegetables involved are green chilies, carrots, green beans, French beans, and sweet corn as well as the fluffy consolation found in mashed potatoes. You can serve with any type of chutney or ketchup.

 
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Polenta cilantro savory bites

Polenta cilantro savory bites
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

This gluten-free dish can be eaten as an appetizer or quaint breakfast. Between two polenta slices sit chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeno, ginger paste, minced garlic, shredded coconut, and poppy seeds. If polenta isn't your style, you can spread this stuffing onto grilled paneer slices for the same effect.

 
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Homemade spicy green peas and spinach pastry puffs

Homemade spicy green peas and spinach pastry puffs
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Homemade spice green peas and spinach pastry puffs belong in your appetizer recipe book because it satisfies vegan dietary restrictions while remaining basic and quick. Five minutes of prep work will be followed by a 20-minute cook time, and before you know it, you'll be dipping puff after puff into either chutney or ketchup.

 
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Baked cheese-stuffed bread rings

Baked cheese-stuffed bread rings
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Bread and cheese? Let's go! The recipe for vegan baked cheese-stuffed bread rings recommends using white bread, but any bread is an acceptable substitute. Soft cream cheese is complemented by bell peppers, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic and ginger pastes, onion, pepper flakes, and more.

 
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Crispy moong dal pakora

Crispy moong dal pakora
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

As pointed out by resident chef Priya Lakshminarayan, moong dal is an excellent plant-based protein source. She has been working to perfect her vegan moong dal pakora recipe since college, and now you can be a beneficiary of the final product. Mix moong dal with green chilies into a paste before adding chopped onions and shredded cabbage. A few other ingredients are inserted to create a spread to go atop your bread slices.

 
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Vegetable puff pastry samosa

Vegetable puff pastry samosa
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Indulge in savory vegan vegetable puff pastry samosas. Unlike other options here, this recipe is baked rather than fried. If a clean diet is your goal, you'll be satisfied by this gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free recipe.

 
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Moong dal toast

Moong dal toast
Courtesy of Priya Lakshminarayan/Cookilicious

Moong dal strikes again—showing that it's versatile nutritionally and in practice. This vegan recipe is similar to the vegan moong dal pakora recipe.

Megan Armstrong (@megankarmstrong) is a writer with previous work appearing in places such as Billboard, Bleacher Report, GQ and others. She's most interested in writing about people and how they live their lives, through the framework of music, entertainment and sports.

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