It’s tailgate season. This is no time to mess around with overly fancy, delicate or time-sensitive creations. This is the time to bust out your EZ Foil pans with their plastic lids and put together bombproof snacks that can withstand half a day on a table (like the fine one below made in an afternoon by local boy Charlie), or many too many hours in a battered crock-pot. We’re talking about snacks that can be eaten standing up. Plates—and utensils beyond toothpicks—are a bonus but not a requirement. Think Peoples Choice Cornbread, game day pulled pork, buffalo meatballs, bruschetta galore, nootch popcorn, nuts, bars etc etc etc…
If all that sounds a little unhealthy, it’s because it usually is. But it is totally possible and appreciated to throw together healthy fare that is more creative than hummus and carrots. Case in point: The roasted Brussels sprouts (intended for dinner) I brought to a recent tailgate was happily gobbled up. So were these hastily conceived baked potato bites, born out of desperation and a glut of purple potatoes grown by my neighbor.
They were inspired by the sweet potato recipe (below), and the basic concept of using potatoes—vs bread slices, chips or crackers—as the snack canvas. They can be doctored up with condiments and whatever fancy dips, sauces, garnishes or spreads are on hand. And of course bacon.
Some of you will be open to the daring weirdness of sweet potatoes. You will have miso in your fridge and procure black sesame seeds (rather than burning white ones and calling it good). Others of you will look in your potato drawer, breathe a sigh of relief and proceed. You all know who you are. I love you on both sides of the divide.
This first offering is more method than recipe, so we can work on relaxing our need for perfection and control WHILE making a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Win Win! The second recipe comes from the Kitch’n, so it is actually precise, though I suggest taking license with toppings. Just make sure you have some savory going on so you don’t double down on sweet. Bacon would be awesome here as well, or Hail Mary Coconut as a sassy Vegan stand-in. So here’s your two-fer, and here’s to happy tailgating.
Straight-up Baked Potato Bites
- Purple, red or yellow potatoes, peeled if desired (or excessively earthy)
- Olive oil to coat
- Kosher salt
- Sour cream
- Green onions, sliced
- Toppings of choice… Corn salsa? Guac? Have I mentioned bacon?
Preheat over to 375 (fudge on this if you are baking the sweet potatoes at the same time)
Cut potatoes into ½” thick (or less) rounds. Toss them with oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. (Rogues may prefer to do this straight on the baking sheet). Arrange potato slices in one layer on a baking sheet.
Bake potatoes for 25 minutes or so. Turn them over and bake another 10 minutes. Use your judgment here—you know how you like your taters. Remove potatoes to paper towel lined plate and let cool a bit. Arrange on serving dish and top with a small dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of green onions.
Load them onto a covered travel platter (or foil pan) and position them next to fancy condiments and salsas so people can create their own potato masterpiece.
Miso Sweet Potato Bites
From the Kitchn. Makes approximately 30 rounds depending on potato shape
- 2 pounds unpeeled sweet potatoes (for the most attractive presentation, select sweet potatoes that are fairly uniform in diameter and shape)
- Oil for baking sheet
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (the vegan kind if that matters to you)
- 2 tablespoons white miso
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- Small pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (preferably black for contrast)
Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are brown on the bottom and tender but not mushy.
To make the spread, whisk together the mayonnaise, miso, tahini, lemon juice, ginger, and cayenne. Taste and adjust any ingredients as desired.
To serve, spread the miso mixture on top of warm (not hot) or room temperature sweet potato rounds. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Same as above, but move them closer to the vegetarians.