Chicken and Tarragon Rolled in Toasted Almonds and Black Olive Tapenade with Grilled Crostini Recipes

Step up your game with make-ahead Super Bowl party appetizers that are sure to impress

I imagine a lot of people (not just me) may attend Super Bowl-watching shindigs as a good excuse for a party. And those people (well, in addition to the ones who may actually be watching the game) will appreciate bites that are a step above the usual chips and pizza. The key to any hors d’oeuvre is getting a lot of flavor into a small bite. “I always strive for combinations of spicy, crunchy, salty, creamy or sweet for a complex, dynamic taste,” says chef and caterer Serena Bass, who contributed these recipes to Real Food. These chicken “meatballs,” which are always a hit, she notes, are prepared ahead, which makes entertaining even easier. The Black Olive Tapenade is delicious served with Grilled Crostini (recipe below) or atop a freshly sliced baguette. Place a teaspoon in the serving bowl for guests to spread tapenade on the bread—it’s much easier than a knife, suggests Bass.

Chicken and Tarragon Rolled in Toasted Almonds

Makes 36 pieces

Note: Greek yogurt is too soft for this; it is best to drain plain, fat-free yogurt. Also, it’s much easier to coat the chicken with almonds when it is cold.

1 c. flaked almonds
8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3 to 4 pieces
2 to 3 c. chicken stock
12 c. plain, fat-free yogurt, drained for 24 hours to yield 6 tbsp.
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp. salt
14 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds evenly onto an ungreased sheet pan. Toast 12 to 15 minutes, until golden, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Once cool, transfer to a covered container.

Place chicken in a small, nonstick saucepan. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from heat and let chicken cool in stock.

Remove chicken from stock, pat dry, and finely mince.

In a bowl, mix chicken with yogurt, lemon zest, tarragon, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Using a teaspoon, drop mixture onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Up to two hours before serving, crush almonds and place in a shallow bowl. Roll each teaspoonful of chicken into a round and coat with almonds. Press down very slightly to create a flat base so chicken rounds won’t roll around on the tray. Refrigerate until serving.

Black Olive Tapenade

Makes 1 cup

1 c. pitted kalamata olives
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. minced Italian parsley
pinch hot pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in bowl of a food processor and pulse to a rough paste. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate. Stir and bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Crostini

Makes 12 servings of 2 slices

Note: These need to be made the day of the event.

12 c. olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic, or to taste
1 tsp. kosher salt
14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, cut in 24 (1/3-inch) slices
3 tbsp. Italian parsley, minced (optional)

In a small bowl, mix oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Lightly brush mixture onto both sides of bread slices.

Up to an hour before serving, grill or broil crostini 15 to 20 seconds until nicely marked on each side. Scatter parsley over bread before serving.

Nutrition info (per serving):
• Chicken & Tarragon: Calories 25 (13 from fat); Fat 1g (Sat. 0g); Chol 4mg; Sodium 74mg; Carb 1g; Fiber 0g; Protein 2g
• Black Olive Tapenade: Calories 19 (16 from fat); Fat 2g (Sat. 0g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 68mg; Carb 1g; Fiber 0g; Protein 0g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.