Score big with Italian-style Super Bowl snacks

–by Jennifer Ruple

Jen Ruple

Now that we’ve finally recovered from the holiday eating frenzy, we’re staring straight in the face of the second largest food consumption day of the year, Super Bowl Sunday. According to Nielsen, in recent years Americans have spent $278 million on potato chips, $198 million on frozen pizzas and $62 million on avocados in the two weeks leading up to the event. That’s a lot of guacamole!
Your friendly neighborhood foodie is here to help sack those statistics with game-day goodies that will score with your home team and get you the extra point. And I’m doing it all Italian style. Kick off the party with Pepperoni Puff Pastry Bites. Gain yardage with Italian Pasta Salad and make the touchdown with Toasted Ravioli.

Pepperoni Puff Pastry Bites

Pepperoni Puff Pastry Bites
Pepperoni pizza is morphed into crispy, buttery snack-size appetizers in this recipe.
This one is super versatile, so feel free to cover the puff pastry with pizza toppings of your choice. Serve the bites along with a zesty tomato sauce for dipping.
Makes 16 appetizers

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
32 slices pepperoni
¼ cup green pepper, diced
¼ cup fresh mushrooms, diced
4 slices mozzarella cheese, quartered
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Marinara sauce for dipping

Thaw puff pastry at room temperature for no longer than 40 minutes. Unfold. Cut pastry dough into 16 squares.

Top each square with two slices of pepperoni. Sprinkle with green peppers and mushrooms. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and top with a slice of cheese.

Bake in a 400 F oven for approximately 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately along with a bowl of warm marinara sauce.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad
Full of color and hearty ingredients, this salad gets better with age. Assemble it the night before the game to give all those wonderful flavors time to come together.
Serves 6-8

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces penne pasta
4 ounces salami, sliced thick and cut into quarters
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
¼ cup banana pepper rings
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
¼ cup olives, halved
Basil leaves, torn

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cool pasta and the remainder of salad ingredients.

Whisk dressing once again and pour over salad. Serve immediately or store overnight in an airtight container.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Toasted Ravioli

Toasted Ravioli
Toasted ravioli is one of the first dishes I made with co-editor Mary Helen Darah in preparation for a cooking spot on WTVG a few years back. Since then, the appetizer remains a favorite and shows up frequently at my parties.

22-ounce package frozen cheese or beef ravioli
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Marinara sauce for dipping

Place eggs in a bowl. Place bread crumbs in a separate bowl.
In a medium frying pan, heat oil.

Dip each ravioli in egg, then coat with bread crumbs.

Carefully add ravioli to the frying pan and cook on both sides until brown and slightly crispy.

Top toasted ravioli with fresh parsley and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
(Recipe by Mary Helen Darah)

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