If you’re a college basketball fan like I am (go, Jayhawks!), you are probably getting excited for one of the best sporting events of the year–March Madness! If you’re planning hoops-centric get-togethers, you can prepare some healthy snacks with these delicious recipes.
Sweet Potato Colcannon
A traditional Irish dish (also perfect for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations), you can make this yummy baked dish ahead of time and use it to serve the masses. It serves four as a main dish but up to eight as a snack/appetizer. Though you can substitute any dark leafy greens, collard greens’ gentle smoky flavor perfectly complements sweet potatoes and leeks. We offer additional winter comfort food recipes here (including amazing Swiss Barley Risotto).
3 very large or 4 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium leeks
1 bunch collard greens
3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
1. Boil a large pot of water. Peel sweet potatoes if desired. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Trim bottom 1/4 inch and top 2 inches from leeks. Slice each in half lengthwise and soak in a bowl of water, swishing to remove sand and grit. Repeat with clean water if leeks are gritty. Dry leeks, then chop into 1/4-inch half-moons.
3. Rinse collards, shake to dry and tear each leaf from thickest part of stem (discard stems). Gather leaves, roll like a cigar and chop roughly.
4. Place sweet potatoes in boiling water, and boil for about 15 minutes. Place olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add leeks and stir regularly for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add greens and continue to stir until wilted, no more than 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Cut largest potato chunk in half. If center is hard, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. When soft to center, drain and return to pot. Add orange zest, salt, pepper and butter. Mash with a handheld potato masher or large fork until you’ve reached desired texture.
6. Add greens and leeks, stir and adjust seasonings to taste. This can be made a day ahead and heated in a covered casserole dish.
Roasted Pepper Bean Dip
This unbelievably easy dip was blogger Dani Hurst’s way of dealing with a huge crop of peppers last summer at her internship at Fair Share Farm. Dani also shares a homemade tomato and tomatillo salsa and homemade baba ganoush recipe in her blog on produce-heavy dips.
1. Slice all produce in half horizontally and roast in oven or toaster oven at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Blend roasted veggies with refried beans until smooth.
Bruschetta with Red Pepper Puree and Toasted Walnuts
I love bruschetta. Toasted bread with a savory topping amounts to the perfect snack in my opinion. Serve up this sophisticated appetizer for finger food with flair. If you don’t want to roast the red peppers yourself, you could buy a jar of them at the grocery store.
3 medium red bell peppers (about 1 pound total)
1/2 pound Italian country bread, sliced
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup unflavored bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 small, fresh thyme sprigs, or to taste
To prepare roasted peppers:
1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Place whole peppers on foil-lined baking sheet and set 2 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 10 to 20 minutes, turning frequently until blackened all over.
3. Place peppers in a zip-top plastic bag, seal and cool 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel, core and seed.
To prepare Bruschetta:
1. Place bread slices under broiler and toast on both sides until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Turn on food processor and chop garlic, about 20 seconds. Add pepper flesh, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
3. Toast walnuts in 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet until golden brown.
4. When ready to serve, place toast on serving platter. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons purée on each slice and sprinkle with walnuts, Parmesan and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
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