When I was a cheerleader in college, I preferred to dance at the fast-paced basketball games over the long, hot football games. There's something so exciting about basketball that makes it a fabulous sport to follow. Thanks to the office pool, this year, I've gotten very into March Madness, the whirlwind tournament that selects the nation's best college basketball team. I'm so into it that I've decided to invite the Sugar girls over for a viewing party. I'll make an assortment of delectable appetizers that highlight some of Spring's most sought-after ingredients. This menu is sophisticated, yet fun.
Mushroom quesadillas with feta and Monterey Jack are so filling, guests won't notice they're meatless. Pancetta-wrapped asparagus is a crowd-pleasing modern day classic. Six-vegetable Spring rolls with carrot-ginger dipping sauce are crunchy and delicious. Finally, chicken Parmesan meatballs with Caesar slaw takes two Italian-American favorites and translates them into finger foods. For these wonderful recipes, read more.
3 tablespoons butter, plus more as needed
10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
8 ounces grated Monterey jack cheese, about 2 1/2 cups
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese, about 1/2 cup
Optional garnishes: Sour cream, cilantro sprigs, salsa
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, shake the pan to distribute them evenly in the pan, and then cook without moving until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Do not salt. Add the remaining tablespoon butter along the sides of the pan if the pan seems very dry. Toss the mushrooms, and continue to cook until nicely browned, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Season mushrooms with the chili powder and salt and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.
- Toast the tortillas directly on a medium gas burner, turning occasionally until slightly blistered on each side. If you have an electric burner, do this in a dry cast iron skillet.
- Place the tortillas on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the jack cheese on one half of each tortilla, top with some of the mushrooms, and then sprinkle with the feta. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling, to make a half moon shape. Lay another sheet of foil over the quesadillas.
- Bake until the cheese melts, about 12 minutes. Serve whole or sliced into wedges, with optional garnishes.
2 pounds medium asparagus
1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
- Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total.
- Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve.
6 rice-paper wrappers
2 cups radish sprouts ( 1/2 ounce)
1 red beet, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, julienned
3/4 cup coarsely grated daikon
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, quartered
2 tablespoons coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar (not seasoned)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch each of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
- Make the spring rolls: Soak one rice-paper wrapper in a large bowl of hot water until pliable. Transfer to a work surface.
- Place one-sixth of the sprouts, beet slices, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, and daikon on the wrapper, toward the bottom. Fold ends in and roll tightly to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 5 more rolls.
- Make the dipping sauce: Puree carrots, shallot, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
- With machine running, add vegetable oil and then water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Serve sauce with spring rolls.
2 pounds ground chicken
3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Fresh basil, chopped or torn
Salt and pepper
12 bocconcini (mini fresh mozzarella balls)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 hearts romaine lettuce, shredded
1 head radicchio, shredded
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken with 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, the bread crumbs, egg, tomato paste, two-thirds of the garlic, the parsley and basil; season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into 3 meatballs: Press 1 bocconcini into each meatball, then pinch the meat to seal. Coat the meatballs with 2 tablespoons oil, then thread onto skewers. Cover and grill, turning, until firm and cooked through, about 18 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, remaining garlic and 1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano. Whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil. Add the lettuce and radicchio and toss. Serve with the meatballs.