The Super Bowl is almost here. If you haven’t started making plans for what you’ll make for your game-day party, or if you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook, you may be thinking of popping into your neighborhood grocery store and picking up potato or tortilla chips along with a jar of bean dip or pre-made queso that you can just pop into the microwave and be done with. Come on! You can do better!
Here are 12 ideas for easy, last-minute Super Bowl snacks, most of which can be picked up at the grocery store and pulled together with a minimal amount of fuss:
Imported olives: Many grocery stores have elaborate olive bars with a variety of imported olives, cornichons, roasted red peppers and more. Fill containers with a mix of unusual varieties – just make sure you get pitted olives, since olive pits get messy.
Rolled grape leaves: Many olive bars feature premade rolled grape leaves that have been imported from Greece or Turkey. They’re typically filled with brown rice, and have been soaked in a tangy olive marinade. In the deli case at some international grocers, you’ll find grape leaves stuffed with ground beef or lamb. Think 2 or 3 per party guest.
Build a fancy cheese plate: Look to the artisan cheese counter for blocks of cheese that will beat anything that’s pre-sliced on a party tray. Many Fred Meyer stores, for instance, now feature in-store Murray’s Cheese Shops, which have a wide variety of domestic and imported cheese options. And they are staffed with experts who can help you out if you don’t know your halloumi from your double Gloucester.
Marcona almonds: At the cheese counter, look for containers of roasted marcona almonds, which are infinitely more flavorful than any nuts that come out of a tin or a jar. Look for either smoked varieties or almonds that have been dusted with smoked paprika. Behold your new addiction! Better pick up more than one container.
Better crackers: If you’re upgrading your cheese, upgrade your crackers at the same time. Most cheese counters have large flatbread crackers flavored with rosemary or dill that people can break apart. Also, looked for water crackers dotted with black pepper or sesame seeds. Way better than Wheat Thins or Ritz any day.
Make a fresh fruit tray: Most produce departments stock party trays with precut fruit, and you pay a steep markup for the convenience. Making your own tray of fresh fruit, though, is easy and a lot cheaper. Just think finger food – fresh grapes, raspberries or blueberries, and those deliciously sweet Clementine oranges. Yes, the Super Bowl is all about junk food. But some of your party guests will appreciate having a few healthy options.
Fresh baguettes: Most grocery stores also carry a variety of baguettes from some of the top bakeries around town. A sliced baguette from Grand Central Baking or Pearl Bakery is a welcomed addition to any party buffet.
Locally-made hummus: Forget tubs of blah hummus from big food manufacturers. Instead, think local, scoring interesting flavors of hummus from local makers like Alexis and King Harvest. And don’t forget pita bread or toasted pita chips to go with it.
The hot bar: Many higher-end groceries feature hot bars, which on Sunday will be loaded with things like red-sauced meatballs, egg rolls, hot wings and other party snacks.
Better wine and beer: Super Bowl food can be pretty low-brow, but that doesn’t mean your drinks need to be. Get six packs of high-quality Oregon craft beer, and modestly priced bottles of Oregon pinot noir and pinot gris. People will choose these drinks over Budweiser and Franzia almost every time.
Gourmet cookies: Clamshell packs of in-house grocery store cookies can be pretty bad. But groceries like Zupan’s, New Seasons and Whole Foods feature cookies made by Portland bakeries, including gluten-free and vegan options.
Take-out: If all else fails, there’s always take-out. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the busiest days of the year for pizza places, but take-out Thai and Chinese food is a great last-minute option. Place your order early, specifying when you want to pick the food up.