March Madness takes the sporting world by storm this week. Brackets will be penned, buzzer-beaters will ensue, and millions of viewers will be looking for some creative nibbles to enjoy during the many live basketball games.
In many ways, March Madness is the Super Bowl of college sports. As such, it demands a healthy spread of food. What works best are snacks that are diverse and filling enough to function as an all-out meal. And, because games tend to run from late morning to evening, at least early on, it’s nice to have some dishes that work interchangeably between the lunch and dinner hours.
We referred to some of our favorite chefs and foodies for some game-ready recipes that will enhance the end-to-end action on the hardwood. Throw on your lucky college shirt, an apron, and get cooking.
BBQ Baked Beans
Jamie Oliver does it all in the kitchen, from outstanding spaghetti sauce to this hearty batch of beans. It’s great for dipping or served alongside a burger, grilled chicken, or cornbread. Throwing a little shredded cheddar cheese on top is always a good idea.
- 2 red onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 fresh red chili
- 2 large carrots
- olive oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 level teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 6 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 x 700 ml jar of tomato puree
- 1.5 cups of mixed beans
- 3.5 oz quality BBQ sauce
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- .5 a loaf of ciabatta or stale bread
- fat-free natural yogurt, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Peel the onions and garlic, then finely slice with the chili. Peel and chop the carrots. Put all these into a large roasting tray and place on a medium heat with a lug of oil, the paprika, cumin and chili flakes. Cook for 20 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly.
- Meanwhile, scrub the sweet potatoes clean, then rub them with a little oil, sea salt, and black pepper, place on a baking tray and put aside.
- When the time’s up, stir the tomato puree into the tray, add a splash of water to the empty jar, swirl it around and pour it in along with the beans (juice and all). Drizzle over the BBQ sauce, season lightly and stir well.
- Pick and roughly chop the rosemary leaves, toss in a little oil and sprinkle over the top, then place in the oven for around 1 hour, or until bubbling, baked, and gorgeous, adding a splash or two of water to loosen, if needed.
- Put the tray of sweet potatoes into the oven for the same amount of time, or until soft and cooked through.
- Around 20 minutes before the beans are ready, tear the bread into rough chunks and toss with a drizzle of oil in a roasting tray.
- Grate some cheddar cheese over (if using), then place on the bottom shelf of the oven for around 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden, to make croutons.
- Remove everything from the oven, tear up the potatoes, and serve with the beans, dollops of yoghurt and the homemade croutons to mop up that delicious sauce, with a simple green salad on the side.
Red Lentil Dip
If you’re not eating Lebanese food, you ought to be. The Middle Eastern nation’s small plate game (otherwise known as mezze) is glorious and tailor-made for little gatherings in front of the television. This recipe from rising New York chef and Brooklyn shop owner Edy Massih is great with pita chips, flatbread, or raw vegetables.
- 2 cup red lentils, cooked
- .25 cup tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Add all the ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until smooth, and fully combined. Make sure to scrape the sides of the food processor.
- Adjust the consistency by adding ice water. Season with salt. Serve the dip with crudités and pita.
Mashed-Potato Spring Rolls
Devised by iconic contemporary chef David Chang, this recipe capitalizes on the creativity that’s made his Momofuku chain famous. It’s a delightful cross between mid-20th Century Americana fare and Asian-inspired snack food.
- Stack the bread in 4 piles and trim the crusts. Using a rolling pin, roll out each bread slice to a thin 3-by-5-inch rectangle.
- In a bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, green beans and togarashi; season with salt and pepper. Brush the edges of 4 bread rectangles with the egg yolk mixture. Shape 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture into a log along a long edge of a rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch on each end. Tightly roll up the bread to form a cylinder; press the ends together to seal. Repeat with the remaining bread and potato mixture.
- In a skillet, heat the oil to 325°. Add half of the rolls and fry, turning occasionally, until well-browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rolls. Serve with gravy and Sriracha.
Ellie’s Mango Salsa
It’s hard to go wrong with mango salsa and this batch from Ellie Krieger of the Food Network is all kinds of tasty. Even better, you can whip it up in five minutes—roughly the length of a time out.
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- .5 cup peeled, diced cucumber
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- Salt and pepper
Combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeño, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Turkey Parmesan Panini
Giada De Laurentiis knows Old World snacks. This panini recipe blends the delightful saltiness of parmesan with the brightness of tomatoes and the grassy kick of pesto. It’s great on its own and even better with a glass of white wine.
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- .25 cup olive oil
- .5 teaspoon kosher salt
- .25 cup store-bought pesto
- 8 slices pullman white bread
- .25 cup marinara sauce
- 8 slices sliced mozzarella or provolone
- 8 thin slices smoked turkey
- .25 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Toss well to coat. Roast the tomatoes until beginning to pop and blister, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spread 1 tablespoon pesto on 4 slices of bread. Spread 1 tablespoon marinara on the other 4 slices. Place a slice of mozzarella on each slice of bread. Divide the turkey evenly on 4 slices of bread and top with some of the blistered tomatoes. Sprinkle each sandwich with 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Top with the remaining slices of bread and press gently.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the remaining oil to the skillet and add 2 sandwiches. Place a lid slightly smaller than the skillet on top of the sandwiches and press down. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and repeat on the second side. Continue with the remaining sandwiches. (Alternatively, you can use a panini press.) Serve warm.
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