By the pool snacks:
Chilled Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Hummus with veggies and chips
Salad of baby lettuces, herbs and romaine, red onion, cucumber and feta
Pasta with slow roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic
Since I knew that wine was going to be an important part of the evening, I made sure to have chilled white on hand and a couple fantastic bottles of red (never opened since they brought their own). We ended up enjoying Pinot Grigio/ Pelligrino spritzers to start, and then moved on to enjoy basil-infused vodka cocktails prior to 'proper' glasses of red wine with dinner. The guys indulged in a special edition of Jack Daniels for a post dinner cocktail, which definitely made the conversation more interesting.
|Dinner was served family style-- no flowers or table setting elegance. Just comfortable seating with easy access to the food.|
One loaf of Provence 7 grain bread, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces. (you will only use half the loaf for this, the rest will be used for salad croutons)
2 ripe avocados, diced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
|The toast in a grill pan prior to going into the oven.|
|The finished product-- messy but incredibly delicious!|
Place the toast on a grill pan on the top rack of the oven while you are preheating for the tomatoes (below). Leave in for about 10 minutes, or until bread is crisp and slightly browned. Once removed, rub each slice with a clove of garlic (I rub each one twice as the bread soaks it up). Place avocado on bread, sprinkle salt/red pepper and lightly spray (yes, I put my best olive oil in a spray bottle for the best distribution) with the oil. Let sit until guests arrive and put back into oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes to combine flavors and soften.
3 cups baby lettuces
1 bunch roughly torn Romaine lettuce
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 TSBP balsamic vinegar
For croutons-- use remainder of 7 grain bread, cube into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a cast iron skillet, spray with olive oil, sprinkle a light covering of garlic salt and lightly toss. Put into the oven as the toast pieces are cooking, and they will come out perfectly crisp. Once cooled, put into the lettuce blend.
|Cubed bread tossed with oil and spice prior to going into the oven.|
|The most amazing salad. I made enough for 8 and barely had enough to feed 4 |
-everyone loved it. The croutons were a huge hit.
|Much going on at the stove at once. Patience and multi-tasking definitely required.|
But, this whole dinner took me a total of 45 minutes-- including the chopping of garlic and avocados!
PASTA WITH TOMATOES
2 pints fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz dry thin spaghetti
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 TBSP course sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Bring a large pot of water with 1 TBSP salt to boil and add spaghetti. While it cooks, place tomatoes, sliced garlic and 2 TBSP of the olive oil into a bowl and toss well, transfer to a baking pan and place in oven for approximately 20 minutes (until fruits are bursting). Remove cooked pasta at about 10 minutes, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Strain in a colander. Put the reserved liquid with the remaining olive oil into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and combine with strained pasta in original pasta cooking pan (it should still be warm). Take tomato and garlic mixture out of the oven, add to pasta and toss well with remaining salt and ground pepper. Top with basil leaves and cheese. Serve slightly warm.
What is your favorite go-to meal for easy entertaining? I would love to hear? Place your comment here - the best suggestion will be rewarded with a collection of fab cookbooks from THE SOUTHERN SOPHISTICATE!