Look, I know we all made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. And now that January is behind us and the Super Bowl and Oscar parties are looming large in our future, why not plan ahead so that you can keep your promise and eat decadently at the same time.
My suggestion is to start at the Farmers Market. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to serve onSuper Bowl Sunday, because yes, I too am guilty of gluttony. I hate giving up flavor, fat, and fun in anything I eat. My motto is, if it goes into my mouth it better taste good.
I am not one for choking down green smoothies because they may clean out my liver, eating like a rabbit because we need to eat our greens, or not eating something because it contains cheese, butter, or duck fat. On the other hand, I don’t mind eating kale when it tastes good (which it truly does when prepared simply), substituting out mayo for something else even more delicious and more healthy (like Greek yogurt or hummus), or eating low fat proteins when they are flavorful and well prepared (like beans).
So here is my menu for the perfect non-New Year’s resolution busting Super Bowl party (i.e., no red meat, but you won’t miss it once you have had the poke and chili). First, got to have chili. This year bulghar will stand in for the ground beef. It has a meaty quality and texture that is satisfying and toothsome. Go to the Internet and you will find plenty of amazing vegetarian chili recipes that don’t include anything closely related to tofu or fake soy ground beef substitute (if you gag at the thought). My favorite veggie chili recipe appears at the end of this missive. Gotta have potato salad, so go for potato salad made with artichoke hummus and yogurt instead of mayo. (Mom’s products has several flavors of hummus, I recommend the artichoke hummus for this, but plain is awesome as well.) Next, cheddar cheese bread and craft beer.
Munchies while watching the game - Kale Chips with Lemon Yogurt Dip (trust me, they are delicious and once the guys taste them they will be converts). I also love popcorn while I’m watching anything (and this will work well for the Oscars too) so try some Sesame Chili Kettle Corn. And finally, because no Super Bowl party would be complete, according to statistics, without some avocado (more avocados are eaten on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year) have Tuna Poke with Avocado Tomato Pico di Gallo served with fresh tortilla chips. Avocados are normally relegated to guacamole or nachos but tuna poke is heaven on earth and whips any nacho’s butt.
I do have a caveat here, if you serve this menu, or just bring one of these to the party that you are going to, you will be invited back next year, or expected to host again next year. People may start blogging about your cooking and your impeccable taste as well, so beware before you dive in. But, if you decide to take the challenge, you won’t be sorry, and your ego will no doubt get lots of stroking. (That was part of my New Year’s resolution as well – get my ego stroked daily!)
If you are pressed for time, or just plain don't like to fuss or cook, there are plenty of easy no fuss options at the market as well. Pick up some of Sister's Caramel Crunch (you'll thank me for this recommendation the stuff is off the charts), freshly made tortilla chips and mango salsa at Salsa Poblanos, hummus and lemon pita chips at Mom's Products, Smoked Ahi Tuna Pate at Ventura Fish Company, a few wood fire baked pizzas from Olive Wood Pizza (the newest addition to the market), some chili or soup at Organic Soup Kitchen, and for dessert, an assortment of cookies from Jinou Edible Art, Les Macaron Duverger, and The Good Cookies, with some berries from Pudwill Farms and Forbidden Fruit Orchards. With any of these products you will find yourself just as popular as if you had cooked, and no doubt on next year's list of party guests and hostess/host with the mostest.
For those who love to don an apron and wield a knife, here are recipes to make you a Super Bowl MVC (most valuable cook) and super star and not cross that New Year’s resolution line. Oh, and also, “Go Pat’s!” (I went to school in Boston, I can’t help myself. My apologies to all of the Giants fans)!
(For the sake of brevity, I have only included two of the six recipes here. The rest of the recipes can be found at www.studiocityfarmersmarket.com under "recipes.")
Potato Salad with Artichoke Hummus and Yogurt
2 pounds Yukon Gold or other creamy potato, unpeeled cut into 1 ½ cubes
½ cup artichoke hummus or plain hummus (add two chopped canned artichoke or marinated artichoke hearts if using plain hummus)
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I like Greek-style yogurt)
1 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced dill pickles, or cornichon, or any pickled vegetable (optional)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (you will get a much different salad using cilantro, and I prefer the cilantro over the parsley)
3 tablespoons finely diced sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you like things spicy
In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the hummus (and artichoke if using) with the yogurt, celery, cornichons (or vinegar), parsley, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Fold in the potatoes, season with salt and serve.
This can be made the day before.
Poke with Avocado and Tomato Pico di Gallo
Serves 4 as an appetizer and 2 as a main course
8 ounce sashimi grade yellowfin tuna, diced into ¾ to 1 inch cubes (Ahi can be used but it is stringier than the yellowfin as it has a lot of white sinew running through the flesh - talk to Oscar at Fisherman’s Catch)
1 sweet onion such as Maui, Walla Walla or Vidalia, diced
1 small seedless cucumber such as Japanese or Persian, diced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
½ to 1 teaspoon sugar (you may not want it at all so taste the dish first then start with a small amount and add to taste)
1 – 2 teaspoons Japanese Togarashi (a mixture of chili pepper, sesame seed, seaweed, sugar and spices and can be found at any Asian grocery store such as 99 Ranch) or cayenne pepper (again, this is a spicy mixture so use a little at first, then add more until you achieve the desired spiciness)
1 teaspoon sesame oil or hot chili oil, or more, to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste if you like things a bit saltier)
Avocado Pico di Gallo
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 large or 2 medium ripe and flavorful tomatoes, or one basket of grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
½ white onion, chopped fine
One small jalapeño, green or red, seeds and white membrane removed, chopped finely (optional – don’t use if you don’t want the dish to be spicy)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (Fresno Evergreen, Scarborough Farms, Berumen Farms)
Make the Pico di Gallo by gently mixing together the avocados, tomato, chopped white onion, chopped jalapeno (if using) and chopped cilantro in a bowl.
Next, make the poke by gently mixing the first 8 ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Place 2 or 3 spoonfuls of the Pico di Gallo in a clear glass, such as a martini glass or a wine glass, for the maximum “Wow” factor, and top with 3 to 4 spoonfuls of the tuna mixture. There should be more tuna than avocado/tomato mixture in the glass, say 2 parts tuna to 1 part tomato.
Serve with tortilla chips (Salsa Poblanos has freshly made chips every Sunday), some lemon slices, and Togarashi or cayenne on the side for anyone who wants a little more kick.