Oh my gosh, it is starting to finely feel like fall. When it cools off to a “chilly” 90 degrees here in Texas, we know fall is just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I think fall starts as soon as the kids go back to school and what else, but football games start up again. Whether it is a fun pregame tail gate party or watching a game on TV, you just can not watch a football game without some awesome munchies! That can mean everything from burgers, to pizza to all sorts of “snacky” food.
Well, I am ready to help you break away from the usual salsa and chips or boring veggie tray you see at your football game spread. How about some Italian Nachos? That’s right, Italian Nachos. This yummy appetizer replaces tortilla chips with crispy toasted baguette slices and tops them with a creamy parmesan cheese sauce. But, wait we are not done. Next, you top that yumminess with spicy Italian turkey sausage, (yes, I am trying to be a bit healthy), and finally, beautiful, fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions!!! Just like the chips, cheese sauce, ground beef, salsa and veggies you see on regular nachos, I give them all an Italian twist and here you have, drum roll please……
This recipe is in honor of my Italian dad, who taught his 5 daughters how to love great Italian food and to love football. Every Sunday after church, we would settle down in front of the TV to watch NFL football. And if the New York Giants were playing, we did not leave the living room for 3 hours!!! That called for lots of appetizers to sustain us through the game, not missing a single play! It was always a great family time together and to this day, we are all Giants fans!
- 1 18-24 inch French Baguette or Italian Bread, 2 inches in diameter
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons dried parsley
- ½ pound Italian turkey sausage links (about 3)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup fat free half and half
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2-3 pickled pepperoncini peppers, sliced
- 2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
- 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed (optional)
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Slice the baguette into ¼ inch slices. Place on a baking sheet. Mix together ¼ cup olive oil, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Brush on both sides of baguette slices. Place under broiler, about 4 inches from heat and toast for 1-2 minutes until browned. Turn over and broil for 1-2 minutes more. DO NOT walk away from broiler. The bread toasts quickly! Set aside.
- Place a frying pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until tender.
- Remove casings from Italian turkey sausage. Place in frying pan with onions and cook on medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. While cooking meat, crumble with a wooden spoon or spatula. Set aside.
- Place a sauce pan on medium heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for 1 minute. When bubbling, whisk in flour. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- In a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, place fat free half and half. Heat in microwave on High for 1 minute. Add to butter and flour mixture. Whisk until mixture is thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, basil, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and 1 clove of chopped garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place toasted baguette slices on a large plate. Pour cheese sauce over all.
- Cover with browned turkey sausage mixture.
- Top with tomato mixture and pepperoncini slices.
- Top with sliced green onions.
So, round up your family and friends, cook up some great appetizers and watch an exciting football game together. Even if it still feels like summer outside, it will start to feel like fall inside! Enjoy!