People always talk about shedding pounds after the holidays. Unfortunately in this household, the holiday weight gain period extends through to the Super Bowl. It’s flattering to hear that there are people who look forward to the get-together at our house every year, so I must be doing something right, right? Or is it the guilty pleasure of devouring a 7-layer dip and fried buffalo chicken balls that brings everyone back? Whatever it is, I don’t care. Unlike the orchestrated Thanksgiving or Easter meals, the Super Bowl is a nosh-worthy event. I throw everything onto a table and I sit back and enjoy the game, (or in this year’s case, not enjoy the game so much, but more so my friends and David Beckham). So this time, I made a concerted effort to try to incorporate some healthier dishes without going all vegan on my guests (not that there is anything wrong with vegan!) What is funny, is that the couscous salad sat, so did the potato salad made healthier with greek yogurt. Anything remotely like a taco-cheese-like substance is always a big seller. So are the veggie dips and ranch dressing. But all my energy wasn’t wasted in trying to tone down my frowny-faced caloric menu, because I found one healthy appetizer that sold….quickly. Ok so it has cheese. But still, it wasn’t fried or dripping with steak juice. These little mozzarella, basil and tomato bites were a hit. Plus they are easy to prepare and apparently don’t sit very long! I love the fact that you can tailor the amount to what you feel like. I made them one night for myself and a friend, so we just made six. Ok so we also made three other appetizers and shrimp étouffée, oh and uh, a smoothie made with Bud Light and peanut butter, but that is another story for another time. (Or maybe I’ll just let that one go…)
1 12 oz package square wonton wrappers
1 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, diced small
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
6 TB fresh basil, Julienne
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced small
crushed red pepper
fresh ground pepper
get started on the wonton cups:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add your diced mozzarella and tomato in a medium bowl. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Add crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Prepare two muffin tins by spraying with non-stick spray. Taking two wrappers at a time, rotate the top one a quarter turn and press both wrappers into the muffin cup. Continue to fill each muffin cup until all 24 cups are pressed in.
Equally spoon mozzarella mixture into each cup and top with sliced basil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and wrappers turn golden brown.
note: this makes 24 wonton cups – enough for me. Ok enough for 8-12 people.
We are a big appetizer family. It can be as informal as a bag of Tostitos and burning hot salsa, with my son stealing dollops of sour cream, or it could be as involved as pulled pork chalupas topped with guacamole. Last weekend, my girlfriend was over our house, and was generously preparing an awesome dish of shrimp in Thai coconut broth for us, so I wanted to keep the appetizer healthy too. I had an old recipe for broccoli rabe that I wanted to try because it was different from how my husband makes it, since he usually mans the rabe station. I was curious to see if it would taste any different. So I got the chance to make it when he opted to leave the two ladies in the kitchen to chat it up, and busy himself in the family room watching the Flyers lose. During intermissions, he kept visiting the kitchen to see what was coming out of it other than all the chatter. I placed the bowl of the sautéed broccoli rabe before him and cut up some provolone cheese and waited. The bowl was gone in 10 minutes. He asked me to make it again this weekend so I guess he liked it. The difference between his preparation and mine, is that I trimmed off the thicker stems and then blanched the broccoli rabe for barely 5 minutes before sautéing. He sautés and steams his in wine or beer. I like it prepared either way. His retains more of the bitterness, but I have a palate for that. The way I prepared it made it seem brighter and sweeter….unlike my personality….haha.
sautéed broccoli rabe:
2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 lbs), tough ends discarded
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves sliced
crushed red pepper
1/4 cup water
kosher salt and pepper
get started on the broccoli rabe:
After you have trimmed and discarded any thick stems from the broccoli rabe, add the remaining broccoli rabe to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 5 minutes until some of the thicker stems are softened. Remove and drain completely in a colander. In a sauté pan, cook the garlic and crushed red pepper in oil over medium heat. Stir occasionally so that the garlic becomes golden but not burned, about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, water, and salt and pepper to the pan. Stir uncovered about 2 minutes. You want the broccoli rabe to remain a bright green. Serve in a bowl with a serving fork for topping crostini or crackers.
note: Watch that clock when blanching…much more than five minutes and you have green mush. This also makes a great side dish for fish or pork chops. You get a good amount of appetizer servings for a group of 4 or 5.