5@5 - Italian-inspired March Madness munchies
March 26th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Over the weekend, Kentucky became the only number one seed to make it to this year's Final Four. While the Wildcats celebrate their Big Dance victories alongside Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas, most of us are crying over our busted brackets.

Eat your March Madness emotions through the rest of the tournament - Italian-style - with chef Doug Psaltis, Executive Chef of RPM Italian in Chicago, Illinois.

Five Cicchetti (Italian snacks) to Munch on During March Madness: Doug Psaltis

1. Stuffed Cherry Peppers
“These little pepper poppers pack a punch, a bit spicy and salty from the sharp provolone cheese and prosciutto”

10 spicy cherry peppers, stems and seeds removed
1/4 pound provolone cheese (Recommended: extra-sharp from Auricchio)
5 thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Cut provolone cheese into small cubes.
2. Wrap cheese with ham and stuff inside the peppers.
3. Marinate peppers in olive oil overnight.
4. Serve with at room temperature.

2. Pasta Trombas
“Nothing like making your own cheese puffs! Be sure to eat them while warm and still crackling. Watch the pasta triple in size when fried, then cover them in freshly grated Grana Padano cheese.”

1/2 cup orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup Grana Padano cheese
Fine sea salt
Fresh black pepper

1. Cook pasta in lightly salted water for 45 minutes.
2. Drain and spread out on sheet pans.
3. Place in a dehydrator for 6 hours at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. (Or in your oven at the lowest possible setting)
4. Fry in canola oil at 370 degrees Fahrenheit until puffed.
5. Toss in grated Grana Padano cheese.
6. Season with fresh black pepper and fine sea salt. Serve as you would chips.

3. Mozzarella Carroza
“Basically, these are the creamiest, crunchiest mozzarella sticks you will ever have. Serve with your favorite marina sauce warmed up.”

1 pound fresh mozzarella
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1. Cut mozzarella into 1-inch squares.
2. Bread the cheese by tossing in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.
3. Place cheese in refrigerator to set the breading - about 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Fry in canola oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, remove and drain on a rack.
5. Season with chopped parsley, salt and chili flakes. Serve with marinara sauce.

4. Arancini
“Great little bits to get the second half of the game going; fry them all and enjoy the smoky, cheesy rice treats."

4 cups water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups Arborio rice
3 cups Fontina cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups smoked mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 cups smoked ham, diced
5 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

1. Put milk, water and rice in a pot.
2. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to very low.
3. When rice is cooked and there is no excess liquid, remove from the pot into a large bowl.
4. Add cheeses, 2 eggs and ham and mix by hand until all is incorporated.
5. When the rice cools, shape with a 1/2oz measuring scoop (roll in the palms of your hands to form balls)
6. Bread rice balls by tossing in flour, then remaining eggs, then bread crumbs.
7. Fry at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, remove and drain on a rack.
8. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Truffle and Prosciutto Toast
“A lot better than your average garlic bread served on a crunchy Italian baguette with creamy truffle, garlic butter… probably the best ham sandwich you could have, great way for the winning team to celebrate.”

3 oz garlic-truffle butter
1 Italian baguette, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
3 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced

1. Brush each baguette with 1 oz of garlic-truffle butter.
2. Top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
3. Place on a sheet tray and toast in oven (top should be melted and the bottom crispy).
4. Top with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese
5. Place prosciutto over top of bread.
6. Cut into each baguette into 5 equal pieces.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Cuisines • Italian • Make • Recipes • Think

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. teamom

    Now really – a truffelbutter toast?! The linked recipe for truffelbutter calls for 4 OZ OF TRUFFELS! Scale it down to 1 oz. truffel/1 stick (4 oz.) butter, and the toasts will STILL have a price that's in the stratosphere. And please learn to spell correctly. A truffle is a confection, a truffel is a fungus.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Gonna have to argue with you on that last bit. Truffles are both confections and fungi. No such thing (or at least spelling) as "truffel" in English. That's a German or Dutch variation.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  2. That's what I'm talkin' about!

    Truffle and Prosciutto Toast. I'm trying that!

    March 27, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  3. Sy2502

    Funny how none of those recipes are actually Italian...

    March 27, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  4. onray

    WTF does "Eatocracy" mean?

    Does that mean we have to be forced to be foodies?

    Sad when millions of Americans are struggling to feed their families.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • VladT

      Occupy Eatocracy!
      P.S. Get over yourself

      March 28, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  5. sylvan finkelstein


    March 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • That's what I'm talkin' about!

      Best sandwich ever, mountain bread toasted, cornbeef, dill pickles and mustard.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:50 am |
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