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Winning dishes to serve up at your Super Bowl party

California artichoke dip. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
California artichoke dip. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

It’s that time of year: A big football game! Ads worth watching! Half-time entertainment! And this year, there’s an added bonus: A major pop star. Sometimes it seems people talk about Taylor Swift and her boyfriend Travis Kelce, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, more than the game.

But my pressing question is not about pop stars or the score. It’s this: What will you eat or snack on while you watch the Kansas City Chiefs battle the San Francisco 49ers? Classic Super Bowl food generally includes chicken wings, guacamole, nut mixes, pizza, sliders, cheese plates and other classics (see links to some of these below).

These three new recipes are ideal for game-watching. The key thing about snacking during a game is that you don’t want to be hopping up and down, having to put things in the oven at the last minute or check on something during a third and long situation! Whatever you eat needs to be eaten from a couch or a comfy chair and all the prep work needs to be done ahead of time. All of these recipes can be served at room temperature, giving you ample time for the game, the ads, the halftime, and the inevitable close-ups of Taylor Swift (in a red sweater no doubt) cheering on Kelce’s team.

The first dish is a classic: an artichoke and frizzled shallot dip, a nod to the 49ers. California and the Bay Area are famous for artichokes (which are in season now). This dip combines marinated jarred artichoke hearts with cream cheese, sour cream and Parmesan cheese, topped with slowly sauteed shallot slices. Serve it hot or room temperature with raw veggies and thin slices of crisp baguette (sourdough would be the local way to do things) or taco chips.

Kansas City is best known for barbecue – ribs, brisket and burnt ends, the crispy charred edges of slow-smoked beef. I created a Kansas City-style rib recipe that is baked in the oven — I know what you’re thinking: Indoors? No grill? — and let me tell you; they are a winner. The ribs are rubbed in a spice mixture and then baked the next day in a low, slow oven. A quick barbecue sauce is simmered with classic Kansas City ingredients: molasses, chile powder, onion, garlic and ketchup. Grab a large stack of napkins and some cold beer and cheer away.

And finally an easy and unexpected finger food: polenta pizza. Polenta, coarse cornmeal, is cooked in boiling water then spread on a cookie sheet to cool. Think of the polenta as the pizza dough. The polenta is baked until just crispy on the edges, sprinkled with cheese and toppings and baked again. Best of all, you can prepare it ahead of time, cut into squares or pizza wedges and serve at room temperature.

Whether you’re rooting for the 49ers or the Chiefs, or simply like to partake in this strange American ritual called the Super Bowl, you might as well make the day full of good bites.

California artichoke dip

California artichoke dip. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This is a nod to artichoke season in California and a classic dip to serve while watching epic football games. It’s pure decadence, a rich, creamy combination of marinated artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon and hot sauce. The dip can be served hot or warm and is delicious topped with frizzled (crispy sauteed) shallots. Sourdough bread, crispy toast triangles, crackers, or taco chips are great to serve with the dip. Or, in a nod to California healthy eating, raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, fennel, broccoli, pepper strips, radishes, etc. also are delicious with the dip.

Serves 4 to 6.


For the dip

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 ounces marinated artichokes, one or two jars or cans, drained
  • ¼ cup dry white wine, optional
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Several dashes Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce

For the frizzled shallots

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 shallots, very thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hint chile flakes, optional

Serve with: sourdough bread slices, toast triangles, raw vegetables, taco chips


  1. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and the drained artichokes and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Raise the heat to high, add the wine and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the wine has almost completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fully softened. Add the Parmesan, sour cream, lemon juice and a dash of Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sauteed artichokes and any juices from the skillet to the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Place the artichoke mixture into a pie plate or small ovenproof gratin dish. Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile make the shallots; in a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, salt, pepper and just a hint of chile flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Once the shallots begin to turn a rich brown color, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
  6. Remove artichoke dip from the oven and spread shallots down the middle of the casserole.
  7. Preheat broiler. Broil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the artichoke mixture is bubbling and hot. Serve hot or at room temperature. Surround with thin slices crispy bread and raw carrots, celery and any other vegetables you have on hand.

Kansas City-style ribs with BBQ sauce

Kansas City-style ribs with BBQ sauce. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Before you begin to shout, let me say that this recipe is not totally authentic to Kansas City. This is my version, a nod to the famous  — some would say unparalleled — ribs that one can find in Kansas City. A quick spice rub is mixed up combining brown sugar, smoked paprika (to give ribs baked in the oven and not on a grill a smoky flavor), garlic and onion powder, cumin and chile powder. The rub is spread on a rack of St. Louis-style ribs and “marinated” overnight, or for at least an hour. A classic Kansas City barbecue sauce is sweeter and thicker than most, and this one is made with lots of chile flakes, molasses, cider vinegar and ketchup. The ribs are baked in a low, slow oven and then slathered in the sauce. Make the sauce and marinate the ribs in the spice rub the day before you’re serving them, place the ribs in the oven, and your work is done.

Of course you can also grill the ribs: place them wrapped in foil over indirect heat (the part of the grill without the fire source) and keep the heat low, around 300 degrees for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat feels tender when you cut between the ribs.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd.

Serves 4.


Spice rub

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • Generous amount coarse salt or Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chile flakes
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup

The ribs

  • 3-pound rack St. Louis-style ribs


  1. Make the spice rub: In a small bowl mix all the ingredients so they are well blended.
  2. Place foil on a large-rimmed baking sheet. Place ribs on foil and spread spice rub on both sides, really massaging it into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
  3. Make the sauce: heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cumin, onion powder, chile powder, and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the molasses and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ketchup; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning adding more chiles, vinegar or whatever it needs.
  4. Make the ribs: preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the ribs, uncovered, on the middle shelf for 1 ½ hours. Remove and cover tightly with foil. Bake for another hour. Remove the ribs and slather with a little less than half the BBQ sauce, cover and bake for another 20-40 minutes. The ribs are done when you insert a small sharp knife into the meat and it feels tender and separates easily. They should be juicy and not dried out at all.
  5. Preheat the broiler and place the ribs under the broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes to brown them up and caramelize the sugar. Remove and cover with foil; let sit for about 10 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve hot, warm or room temperature with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side. Serve with a big stack of napkins.

Super Bowl polenta pizza

Super Bowl polenta pizza. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Think of the polenta as a blank canvas and paint your own picture. You can add tomato sauce, any cheese (Parmesan, Gruyere, blue cheese), herbs, artichoke hearts, sauteed spinach or kale or Swiss chard, sauteed zucchini slices, sausage or bacon or pancetta, pepper slices, cherry tomatoes and more. This is a great dish to raid your refrigerator of all those bits and pieces that inevitably lie around the crisper drawer.  I used sauteed spinach, grated Parmesan, sauteed red pepper slices and thin slices of salami. Fresh basil provided the garnish.

The polenta needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you bake it and add the toppings. This dish is great served hot or room temperature. It’s actually delicious served the next day for breakfast topped with a poached or fried egg.

Serves 4.


The polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

The toppings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 packed cup spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 thin slices salami, or soppressata
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish optional


  1. Make the polenta: in a medium pot, bring the water and a generous dash of salt to boil over high heat. Slowly add the polenta and stir, using a wooden spoon or whisk, until fully incorporated. Reduce heat to low, stir, and then cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the water is all absorbed and the polenta is smooth and tender. The polenta should be the consistency of thick oatmeal. Remove from the heat.
  2. Spread the 1 tablespoon of oil over the bottom of a half-sheet pan or small rimmed cookie sheet. Spread the cooked polenta on the sheet to about ½-inch thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight to chill and firm up.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Make the toppings: heat ½ tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes or until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate. In the same skillet, heat another ½ tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake the chilled polenta without the toppings for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown and look slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and sprinkle half the cheese over the polenta. Scatter the toppings, spinach, peppers and salami, over the whole surface. Then drizzle the remaining half tablespoon oil on top. Sprinkle it with the remaining cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully cut into twelve 2-inch squares. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Other classic Super Bowl recipes

  • Click here for recipes to make guacamole, deviled eggs and avocado quesadillas.
  • Click here for recipes to make chicken wings, a mocktail and chili.
  • Click here for recipes to make fish chowder, crab chowder and crab cakes.
  • Click here for a recipe to make California lemon and pistachio cake.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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