We know the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will battle it out in  Super Bowl XLVIII.  We know Bruno Mars will take the stage for half time.  Now it’s time to plan your party.   Don’t like this year’s teams?  Not into football?  No matter! The Super Bowl is the perfect time to play hostess, further solidifying your home as the go to spot for fun social gatherings!   First order of business… plan your menu.  I say take the traditional football party fare up a notch by adding some gourmet goodies to the table.   S&LF enlisted the talents of Food Network Star and author, Sunny Anderson, to share some of her yummy recipes.

Menu Items:

*Tomato and Pesto Tart
*Mini Scallion and Parmesan Meatballs
*Roasted Tomato and Herb Couscous

Tomato and Pesto Tart
Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2013

Makes two 9-inch round tarts or three 14 x 4½-inch rectangle tarts

For the tarts
2 premade pie crusts
Nonstick cooking spray
10 to 12 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the pesto
1 bunch flat-leaf or curly parsley, roughly chopped (1 lightly packed cup), including stems
1 bunch basil, roughly chopped (1 lightly packed cup), including stems
10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
4 cloves garlic
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup almond slivers
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ cup olive oil

1. Set the crusts. Unroll and press the pie crusts into the bottom of two 9-inch tart pans. If using rectangular pans, just trim one-third of each crust and press the scraps together to fit. Then, use your pointer finger to press the dough into the sides of the pan. Use a knife to remove the excess crust along the top edges and discard scraps. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the crust a few times to allow for venting (maybe 3 pricks per quadrant). Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425?F.

2. Prebake the crusts. Spray the shiny side of 2 pieces of aluminum foil with a bit of nonstick spray and press into the tart shells, sprayed side down. Fill with dry beans or pie weights and bake until the edges are golden and the sides are set, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake another 10 to 12 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 375?F.

3. Make the pesto. Blend the parsley, basil, thyme, garlic, Parmesan, almonds, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor until the ingredients resemble a rough paste. Taste the pesto and season with salt and pepper, if needed. To finish, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the feed tube while blending.

4. Assemble and bake the tarts. Divide the pesto equally and using a rubber spatula, evenly spread it onto the bottom of each prepared crust. Starting around the outer edges place the tomatoes over the pesto, overlapping each slice slightly as you move around the tart pan. Then make a smaller circle of overlapping slices within the starter ring. Continue until the entire pan is covered in circles of tomato slices. Repeat for the second tart. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top of each tart and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes appear roasted in texture and the edges of the crust are golden brown. If the dough browns too quickly, tent the edges with foil.

5. Garnish the tarts and serve. Remove the tarts from their rings and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Mini Scallion and Parmesan Meatballs
Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2013

Makes 40
1 pound ground beef chuck (80% meat, 20% fat)
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp or finely minced
2 scallions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1 teaspoon Hungarian or hot paprika

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ panko
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Season the beef. Break up the beef into small chunks and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese, garlic, scallions, and paprika over the entire bowl. In a small bowl add the eggs, sour cream, and salt, and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Stir in the panko. Pour the mixture over the beef and gently mix into the beef with one hand using your fingers like a pitchfork.

2. Make the meatballs. Divide the meat into quarters and make 10 mini meatballs per quarter, for a total of 40. Refrigerate the meatballs on a large plate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375?F.

3. Bake the meatballs. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and line the meatballs at least ½-inch apart on the sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and rest at least 10 minutes before inserting toothpicks to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Tomato and Herb Couscous
Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2013

Serves 4-6

For the tomatoes
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into ½-inch discs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the couscous
1 cup couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped Vidalia or sweet onion
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Roast the tomato slices. Preheat the oven to 400?F. Place the tomato slices in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss and place in 1 layer on a wire rack placed in a baking sheet outfitted with parchment paper or aluminum foil between the rack and the sheet. Roast in the oven until the edges are shriveled and caramelized, but moisture is still left in the center, about 25 minutes. Remove and allow the roasted tomato slices to cool, then gently chop. Set aside.

2. Make the couscous. Pour the couscous into a large bowl with a lid or have plastic wrap ready to cover. In a medium pot on medium-low heat combine the oil, onion, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook while stirring until the onion is tender and fragrant, but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until tender and fragrant, another 6 to 8 minutes (the onions may caramelize a bit; that’s okay). Add the stock and bring to a boil. Immediately pour the stock into the couscous and stir then quickly cover. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add the basil, parsley, lemon zest, reserved tomatoes; fluff with a fork. Taste and season with a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve warm or cold.