Football Party: Sides, Salad and Dessert

October 24, 2008


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Another thing I realized last Monday: football parties are not about salads and side dishes. Unless you' re having lots of persnickety women over who might worry about eating too much chili or potato skin, then don' t fret too much about having lots of healthy options…they will be outdone by your pot of beef and cheesy baked potatoes. People really do revert back to a child-like state when their team' s fate is on the line—nobody will be thinking about the FDA' s dietary recommendations while their team plays. Especially not if the game is a struggle. For me, side dishes are one of the most enjoyable parts of making a meal, because you can really play around with ingredients and combinations. Needless to say, I ate a lot more veggies than anybody else. To complement the chili I made caramelized butternut squash, green beans almandine and a Boston Bibb salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and apple cider vinaigrette. They were all good options, but chili and potato skins still stole the show. I would make these again in combination with some roasted chicken or a meaty fish—and I' ll probably make them soon since they' re so autumnal.

Caramelized Squash:

I took two medium sized Butternut Squash, peeled them and cut them into 1 inch cubes, which I placed flat on a baking sheet. In the meantime, I melted 4 tbsp of butter and set aside ¼ c brown sugar plus salt and pepper. I poured the butter over the squash and made sure to cover each cube completely. With a spoon, I sprinkled on brown sugar so that the edges of each piece would caramelize. Then I added salt and pepper and baked the squash for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. I kept them in the oven at 200 until the guests were ready to eat about 30 minutes later.

Green Beans Almandine:

I washed and cut the ends off of 2 pounds of green beans. I boiled them in salted water for about three minutes, then put them into an ice bath. In the meantime, I sautéed a shallot and ½ cup sliced almonds in olive oil over a large skillet. Once the beans were drained, I sautéed them for a few minutes until they were cooked but not soft. When they were finished, I kept them warm in the oven at 200.

Boston Bibb Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:

This salad was recommended to me by a CHOW subscriber. It was a really lovely fall salad, although I used squash seeds instead of pumpkin seeds—I toasted them at the same time as the garlic. I would also recommend adding some fresh apples to bring out the flavor of the cider dressing. A few slices of salty parmesean cheese were also in order.

Banana Cream Pudding:

Finally, Molly brought over her banana cream pudding from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. (Here are online instructions and a bit of review.) It was a perfect end to the hot chili and was super-easy for guests to serve themselves. Look at how happy Dan was! No, but seriously.

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