By now, you’ve been inundated with many great ideas for Super Bowl food. Some follow traditional Game Day menus – chili, chicken wings, potato skins and such. Others tend to the lower calorie – herbed yogurt dips for veggies, vegetable pizza made with broccoli, and salsa with baked chips.
Although I’m fine with all those options, I propose that you veer way off course for at least a few of your Super Bowl snacks. How about fruits and nuts? Sure they may bring derisive sneers from the fast food-only crowd. But, you’re tough enough to take a bit of ribbing, right? On the plus side, you may earn high marks from your foodie friends and those who take a dim view of the tried-and-true snacks. Besides, you may like these snacks.
I think of these as Mad Men appetizers updated. Dates have a rich taste that goes well with both sweet and savory fillings. The larger and moister dates are best; Medjool is the type often recommended for stuffing. I happened to have pitted dates on hand, but in any event, removing the pit is simple. The pit is narrow and easily removed from the center when you cut the date in half. For the sweet filling, I used a ½ yogurt, ½ cream cheese combination with a bit of honey and topped with chopped, roasted walnuts. For the savory, I used a combination of ½ blue cheese and ½ cream cheese. Goat cheese is another delicious filling, either alone or mixed with other ingredients. Each filled half date is a 1 or 2 bite delight.
Dry roasted, unsalted nuts
Roasting intensifies the flavor of nuts and adds to their crunchiness. You can roast them with oil or without. I prefer the second way, called “dry roasted”, both for the taste and to avoid the unnecessary oil. Many stores, including Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood, sell dry roasted and unsalted almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and pine nuts.
If you can’t find roasted nuts or prefer to do the roasting yourself, it’s easy in either a regular or toaster oven. Put the nuts in a pre-heated oven on a cookie or toaster oven sheet, in single layer with plenty of space between them. In order to prevent the nuts from burning, keep an eye on them and turn them frequently or shake the pan gently to move the nuts around. I’ve found recommendations to roast almonds and peanuts at 160-170 degrees and pistachios at 160 degrees, which should take about 15 minutes. I use a higher temperature, 325 degrees, for walnuts and pecans.
When you’ve had enough of way-too-salty chips and overly buttered popcorn, head to trail mix. The best trail mix is made with whichever dried fruits and roasted or raw nuts you love best. In addition to dark and golden raisins, cranberries and apricots, I generally include pineapple and sometimes banana chips. As a charter member of the “chocolate almost all the time” club, I add chocolate chips unless someone stops me. I’ve been known to use yogurt-covered raisins too, and even crystallized sugared ginger, on occasion. If you’re into the savory and sweet combination, try adding a few lightly salted small pretzels or lightly salted nuts. Remember how good figs were in the chocolate bark? If you’re really adventurous add a couple of figs chopped into reasonably small pieces. The choices of trail mix ingredients are almost endless and you if you’re the one making the mix, you get to be “the decider” as to what goes into it.
And just to show you that I do respect tradition, when it comes to Super Bowl parties as well as much else: