Lighter Appetizers for Super Bowl

by Elizabeth Skipper | January 27th, 2015 | Ask the Chef

appetizers (400x400)I am sure I will be at some sort of gathering for the Super Bowl. While I do like indulging, it can be overwhelming to have so many heavy snacks. I try to bring a healthier appetizer, but I also am bored with a veggie tray. Do you have a suggestion for a simple yet healthy appetizer?

Great question! I love gooey melted cheese – cheese of all kinds, really – and substantial snacks as much as anyone, but sometimes when you look at what people bring to a party, you have to wonder – does it all have to be so heavy, so filling? A friend went to a Christmas party last month and had the same reaction; although in that case every single thing was a sweet of some sort. Balance, people, balance is needed!

So I’m always on the lookout for alternatives. Alternatives other than the lonely veggie tray, which all too often is served straight from the grocery store container, with the inevitable sad white-filmed carrots, celery, raw broccoli, unripe cherry tomatoes, and yucky generic dip with the mile-long list of ingredients. Much as I want to partake of something nominally healthful, this isn’t the answer. This is no alternative to me.

What’s a party-goer to do? Bring something, of course, which you’ll enjoy that others will be happy to see and partake of, too. There are several approaches. One is to make something protein-based but without a lot of fat: ceviche, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp or asparagus, chicken satay, or perhaps an appetizer that combines smoked salmon with cucumbers. Another would be lightly cooked, marinated veggies like you’d find on an antipasto tray: mushrooms, artichokes, carrots, etc. Or make a veggie-based dip like caponata (an Italian sweet and sour mélange of onions, celery, garlic, eggplant, tomato, raisins, red wine vinegar, and olive oil that’s divine), green or black olive-based tapénade, or a fresh pico de gallo salsa. Dippers can be something like baked pita chips, which are much less fatty than fried chips, or some more unusual vegetables like endive leaves or fennel.

There are appetizers in my repertoire like bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes, where the bacon used is an accent and the sweet potatoes are the star; tasty little skewers of sausage, apple, and sage leaves; vodka-marinated cherry tomatoes; and marinated shrimp, which need no dipping sauce. Roasted vegetables make a great change from raw ones, and can be seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and different kinds of vinegar. Or you can choose a dip with a base of cooked carrots, eggplant, or some kind of legume. Hope this has given you some ideas to explore.

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