Girl Power March Madness Appetizers

March Madness appetizers
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Just because it’s a sporting event doesn’t mean you are forced to eat chips-and-dip or pigs-in-a-blanket. Am I right, ladies?

Hosting a March Madness party? Here are three grilled appetizers that are a step above the everyday for the girls (that the dudes will totally dig, too). All three are make ahead so you can enjoy the game and gab time.

First up is Grilled Crostini with a fresh cherry tomato salad, followed by Grilled Asparagus Capicola Wraps, and finally Spicy Lamb Bites with Piri Piri and a Garlic-Greek Yogurt dip. Grilling in that order will minimize clean up.

The crostini are really a classic bruschetta recipe, simply on smaller bite-sized bread. Lightly brush sliced baguette bread with an olive oil and dried herb mixture. Grill both sides for a few minutes and set aside. Rub one side of each slice with a clove of raw garlic while still warm.

herbed olive oilCrostini

Make a tomato salad with diced yellow and red cherry tomatoes, chopped green onion tops, olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper.

For the grilled asparagus, I used my trusty Quantum TRU-Infrared™ two-burner grill. I love the infrared for veggies because the design eliminates the problem of food falling through the grates.

Follow the recipe below for a healthy appetizer that looks as good as it tastes.

grilled asparagusGrilled asparagus wrapped in hot Coppa

Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Hot Capicola

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

A healthy grilled appetizer for any occasion.


  • 1 pound tender asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package hot Capicola


  1. Preheat the grill on high and turn down to medium high.
  2. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. Drizzle the olive oil and fully mix with asparagus. Sprinkle the asparagus with salt and cracked pepper.
  3. Before grilling, shake off excess oil.
  4. Grill for a few minutes on one side, roll partially and close the lid for a few minutes to tenderize the asparagus.
  5. Put aside to cool. Wrap two slices of hot Capicola around bundles of two or three asparagus stalks.

Now it’s time to get meaty. But instead of boring old burger sliders, how about a spicy lamb skewer with a roasted garlic yogurt dip? Lamb holds up to bold flavors so I brought down the jar of Piri Piri from the high shelf for this recipe. Piri Piri either refers to an African chile also called bird’s eye chile, or is simply a spice blend. Mine is the latter and I don’t bring it into my cooking very often because my kids are total wimps when it comes to spice. I’ve worked hard to get them up to mild salsa and barbecue sauces, but they can’t handle anything that bites the tongue. Piri Piri definitely bites the tongue.

Make small patties and grill, then skewer. Chinese soup spoons work great for the dip so guests aren’t tied down to a plate. The spoons hold the dip and the lamb skewer. Enjoy the full recipe below.

March Madness appetizerslamb skewers

March Madness Lamb Skewers with Piri Piri

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12-15 pieces

Delicious lamb skewers with roasted garlic-Greek yogurt sauce.


    Lamb Skewers
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops
  • 1 tablespoon Piri Piri blend
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated shallot
  • 2 tablespoons hot mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Bamboo cocktail picks, or shorter skewers
  • For the Dipping Sauce
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced in small "pie" triangle pieces


  1. Preheat the grill on high for 15 minutes, then turn down to medium high.
  2. Roast the garlic ahead of time by cutting off the top of the garlic bulb so the tips of the cloves are exposed, drizzling the bulb with olive oil and roasting in a 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes until the cloves are soft.
  3. Mix the lamb, green onion tops, Piri Piri, egg, shallot, hot mustard, and salt and pepper thoroughly but gently until evenly incorporated.
  4. Make small, oval patties of lamb, about the size of a large, somewhat flattened meatball. They will shrink about 25 percent on the grill.
  5. Grill the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes until medium rare. Set aside.
  6. Mix the garlic, yogurt, oregano and thyme until smooth.
  7. Skewer each lamb patty individually on bamboo cocktail picks.
  8. Serve with yogurt-garlic dip.

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