A Pre-Mardi Gras Celebration
With the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year, we decided to have a some Mardi Gras-inspired-munchies while we watched the game, instead of the usual Super Bowl fare, and timely since Mardi Gras is February 12th this year.
Not a holiday we typically celebrate, but certainly one I can appreciate and Let the Good Times Roll~ an excuse to eat and enjoy a cocktail, which also goes hand-in-hand with the Super Bowl!
Since I automatically think of a Muffaletta when I think of New Orleans, I found a recipe for Muffaletta Tortellini Salad from Food Network.
I substituted some pasta for half the tortellini called for, and a made a few additions to make an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ recipe when it was all said & done~ sort of like New Orleans herself, with the blending of cultures and cuisines.
~8 oz, refrigerated cheese tortellini (I used half spinach tortellini & half rotini pasta)
~1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
~1 cup giardiniera vegetables, drained and chopped (I used closer to 1 1/2 cup)
~1 (6-oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I used a 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, since I had it on hand)
~1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped (I also added a small can of sliced black olives)
~ cubed Provolone cheese (my addition)
~1 package Hormel Mini Pepperonis (my addition)
~1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil*
~1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar*
~1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
~salt & pepper
*I used bottled Italian Dressing.
Food Network’s recipe called for an 8 0z. spiraled mozzarella-and-pepperoni rolls which I couldn’t find so I used cubed provolone and a package Hormel Mini Pepperonis instead. You could also add cubed ham or salami for more Muffaletta flavor. I also added a can of Cannellini Beans just because :)
Cook pasta/tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the tomatoes, giardiniera vegetables, artichokes, olives, cheese, pepperonis, olive oil and vinegar (or dressing) to the bowl with the pasta/tortellini. (I toss the pasta with some Italian dressing while the pasta is still warm so it absorbs the dressing, then add the rest of the dressing to the tomato/vegetable mixture.)
Season the pasta with additional salt and pepper. Toss with the parsley, reserving about a teaspoon for garnish. Serve at room temperature.
You can find Food Network’s original recipe, here.
For a fun presentation you can serve it in mini martini glasses for a New Orleans/Mardi Gras theme~
The glasses, from Dollar Tree and are 3 ounces, the perfect appetizer or party size, and no tears are shed if The Good Times Roll a little too hard and there is a casualty :)
We enjoyed the Muffaletta Salad with some Cajun Quesadillas, assembled from Chicken Jambalaya, made in advance the day before. I don’t have photos since I deleted them by accident :( but they were a hit and easy to assemble with flour tortillas and Monterey Jack cheese on a Panini press. Serve with a drizzle of romoulade that if you don’t want to prepare, you can buy premade.
Finish with a toast to Mardi Gras with a cocktail inspired by New Orleans’ signature treat~ King Cake!
I found this recipe in the Jan./Feb. issue of Food Network Magazine, where this cocktail is from Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone, using Lucky Player King Cake Vodka. I used Pinnacle Cake Vodka, left from a birthday celebration and for Birthday Cake Martinis.
Green, purple and gold sanding sugar for glass
2 oz. Cake Vodka (or use 2 oz. vanilla vodka plus 2 drops almond extract)
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
Ground cinnamon, for dusting
* I added 2 oz. half-n-half so there was something to mix with the booze :)
Put a small pile each of green, purple and gold sanding sugar on a plate, keeping them separate. Moisten the rim of a martini glass, then press part of the rim into each colored sugar.
Combine the vodka, Grand Marnier and Baileys in a cocktail shaker with ice (and half-n-half if desired). Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Dust with cinnamon.
Cinnamon-spiced and decorated with the colors of the Carnival!
Have your cake and drink it too :)
From the archives~ a Mardi Gras-inspired table with fleur-de-lis napkin rings, gold flatware, requisite crowns, doubloons & beads, and masks at each place setting~
Dishes- Fitz & Floyd Classique D’Or
Gold chargers– Hobby Lobby
Fleur-de-lis Napkin Rings & Placemats- Bed, Bath & Beyond
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!
A little lagniappe~ Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard~ a beautiful book and perfect gift for the hostess-with-the-mostest or Francophile. The sampling of culinary & cultural flavors to be experienced within these pages are sure to whet your appetite for a trip to New Orleans!
Thank you for your visit, I’m joining: