With another Super Bowl in the books, party faire has been strongly on my mind. Why is it that a get together must warrant reckless abandon of health consciousness? I challenge the assumption that celebrations must require an obligatory binge on sweets and fatty treats. Let’s celebrate with friends and family, enjoy a meal together, and part ways without having to let out the stretchy pants.
Here are three party dishes that are delicious, and won’t leave you with an appy hangover.
Thai Lettuce Wraps
These Thai lettuce wraps are a low-carb finger food that is high in nutrients and fiber. Best of all, they’re a fast and easy treat that plate up beautifully and disappear as soon as you place them on the serving platter.
Serves 4 appetizer portions
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
½ onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, mostly seeded, finely minced
1 lb ground pork
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tbsp fresh ginger, grated
6 or so tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 generous splash mirin (rice wine)
1 splash rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
Wrap and Toppings
12 large lettuce leaves, rinsed well and dried (Recommended: Bibb)
5 baby carrots, julienned
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Directions: Heat oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno, sautéing until tender. Add ground pork, salt and red pepper. When pork is almost completely browned, add garlic and ginger, cooking for an additional minute until fragrant. Stir in liquids and brown sugar. Increase heat to high and cook until liquids reach a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Finish with squeezed lime.
To assemble wraps: place pork filling, carrot, and cabbage on a large lettuce leaf. Top with cilantro and finish with freshly squeezed lime juice.
Cheesy Meatball Klobasnek with Basil Marinara
Often referred to as savory kolaches, these stuffed rolls are a compact version of meatball subs.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp, 1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup warm water
4 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
32 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded
2 lbs ground grass-fed beef (may substitute ground pastured pork)
½ cup onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp parmigiano reggiano
2 heaping tsp dried Parsley
1 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper
Olive oil to coat pan
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried basil
Salt and red pepper, to taste
Dough: In a medium sauce pan, warm milk and butter over medium-low heat until butter has melted, but before liquid comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in egg yolks.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in water. Let ferment for 5 minutes.
Mix remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk and yeast, slow incorporating wet and dry ingredients with your hands or a wooden spoon. Knead for 3 minutes until a soft, pliable dough is formed. Let rise for one hour. Begin preparing meatballs.
Meatballs: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well incorporated. Spoon beef mixture into golf ball sized meatballs.
Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and place on medium heat. Brown meatballs on all sides, about 5 minutes for each side. Remove from heat.
Divide bread dough into golf ball sized portions (about 1 ¾ oz). Roll to 4-5” round. Place meatball in the center of rolled dough and top with ¼ cup shredded mozzarella. Bring edges of dough together and pinch to seal. Cover with a clean tea towel and let proof for 45 minutes. Prepare basil marinara.
Basil Marinara: Combine all ingredients in a medium sauté pan. Heat until boiling, stirring frequently and breaking tomatoes apart with your stirring spoon.
Turnip Green Dip
Fresh bacon adds great flavor and a chewy bite to this dip without imparting as many damaging nitrates found in cured bacon. Turnip greens are also higher in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and calcium than spinach.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 lb fresh bacon, chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
4 heaping cups packed fresh turnip greens, stemmed and chopped
1 cup sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
4 oz mayonnaise
½ cup parmigiano reggiano
¼ tsp red pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and reserve on a lined plate.
Sauté onions in drippings over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until almost translucent. Add wine and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in turnip greens and remaining ingredients except mozzarella. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until cream cheese is melted. Stir in reserved bacon.
Transfer to baking dish and top with mozzarella. Broil on high for 4-5 minutes until cheese is golden brown. Serve hot with crudité or toasted baguette.