February 1st 2012

5 party food favorites: revamped

The Super Bowl is around the corner, and party foods are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean that those who are feeling a little more health conscious need to be left out!

If you want some healthier options alongside various versions of loaded nachos,

Here are some classic – and not so classic – party food recipes… revamped to make them healthier, and loaded with flavor!

Mini Pizzas, Pita Style

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1 (14oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 whole-wheat pita breads (about 7 to 8 inches each)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until both are onion and garlic are browned, about 4 minutes. Add the dried oregano, dried basil, marjoram, crushed red pepper flakes, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Once the sauce is finished, put the pitas on two baking sheets. Spread the tomato sauce on each one. Scatter the yellow bell pepper and red onion on each of the pizzas. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake until peppers and onions are cooked through and the cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with basil and cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Easy Salmon Dip

1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (8oz) salmon fillet, with the skin
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped smoked salmon
1 green onion, thinly sliced (just the white)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper taste
Crackers, vegetables or toasts for serving

Put the wine in a medium skillet. Add the salmon and cover with lid. Cook on medium-high heat for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the salmon is poached and opaque. Let cool completely in the wine, then transfer to a plate. Remove the skin and use a  fork to flake it into large pieces.

Put the cheese, smoked salmon, green onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Add the salmon. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 unripe mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
About 12 oz thin boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 heads Bibb lettuce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Put the rice vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the carrot and mango and toss to combine. Let marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to one day.

Heat the canola oil on a grill or grill plate. Put the lime juice, ginger, and oil in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and let it sit for 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the chill and cook until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cool.

Thinly slice the chicken, and add it to the carrot and mango. Divide the mixture among the lettuce leaves, and drizzle with any remaining dressing from the carrots and mangos. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Sweet Potato Hummus

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large can (19.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Juice from 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Pita and vegetables for serving

Steam the potatoes until tender, about 12 minutes. Put them in a food processor. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice (start with 3 tablespoons), tahini paste, olive oil, cumin, cayenne (if using), and garlic. Process until well mixed, about 1 minute, adding water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool completely and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Black Bean, Corn, and Spinach Quesadillas

1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed, mashed with a fork
1/4 cup cooked corn niblets
2 whole-wheat tortillas (8-inch)
1/2 cup cooked spinach
1/2 cup shredded, pepper-jack cheese
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh salsa, guacamole and sour cream for serving

Spread the black beans over half of each tortilla. Top with the corn, spinach, and cheese. Sprinkle  with salt and pepper. Fold the tortillas in half over fillings.
Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook until heated through and the fillings are melted, about 3 to 6 minutes. Serve warm with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.