During the school year, it's really hard to find the time and energy to have guests over. And when I'm in a play, it's really hard to find the time and energy to have guests over. And when Felix is working hard, it's really hard to find the...well, you get it.
So, instead of living without friends for the next twenty years, I decided, enough with the excuses. I'm having people over for dinner! Who cares if I had no clean cloth napkins in the house? Paper would have to do. Who cares if there was a pile of laundry in our bedroom that we were about to have to rent a separate studio for? Close your bedroom door. Who cares if the only food in your fridge is eggs and really (REALLY!!) old won-ton soup from Yuet Lee?
Ok. I do. As much as I love scrambled eggs- I was not serving them for dinner to company. And who should we have over?
That's Alice and Joanna. Two of Felix's friends from Brown that I kinda stole from him. Sorry, honey. Alice is working for The Man in a summer law internship, and Joanna is Ph.D-ing it at Berkeley. Her boyfriend Padriac is there too. You've seen them before here. And here.
And see that Trader Joe's bag and Old Fashioned Cheesecake box? Not ours. They were there when we came down, but no one was around, so we encroached on the space. Then, 20 minutes later, some dudes they came down and acted all passive-aggressive like we had stolen their stuff. They also had a rice cooker with them. Who brings a rice cooker down to the bbqs? Sorry. That was my inner brat speaking...
I wanted to have a really mellow dinner. This was not going to be a Kristen-pretends-she-is-the-French-Laundry night. So, I decided I'd do a bunch of different stuff on the bbq, make a few dips, cut up some peasant bread, and that would be dinner. On the grill are a whole mess of vegetables for a bruschetta recipe that I found in the July '07 Food and Wine, and some shrimp and chicken that I marinated in garlic, lemon juice and olive oil for a few minutes. The meat was a little bit of an afterthought, but it worked out really well. Especially the shrimp. I think the bbq is my favorite way to prepare and eat them now.
But my main concern was the bruschetta because Joanna is a vegetarian. And I always feel that vegetarians get the shaft when they go out to dinner. There is usually only one option on a restaurant menu, and it usually contains eggplant. I was determined to have a kick-ass vegetarian main dish that did not include eggplant.
Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta
Serves 10 (I cut it in half for my dinner)
6 c. lightly packed fresh basil leaves
6 garlic cloves + 2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 each of red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini- all halved lengthwise
1 large sweet onion
5 large ripe tomatoes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. chopped parsley
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp thyme
4 oz ricotta salata
In your food processor make a pesto: combine basil and 6 cloves garlic until minced. Add 3/4 c. oil and process to paste. Transfer to a bowl and fold in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Brush vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, until slight charred and just tender. Cut all grilled vegetables into 1-inch squares (I think I did a bit smaller) and transfer to large bowl. Add tomato and red onion.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining olive oil with lemon juice, parsley, vinegar, minced garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Pour of vegetables and toss.
At this point it says to brush sliced country bread with olive oil, and grill it. I craved soft bread that night- so I skipped this step.
To serve, you're supposed to spread some of the pesto on a piece of bread, top it with the vegetables and eat. If you make this, definitely do not skip the pesto- it adds a lot of flavor and bite to the vegetables; it really makes it a meal. I also made a chipotle mayonnaise to go with the meat. Or with the veggies. Or the pesto could go with the meat. It was kind of a mix and match night.
And yes, of course there was dessert. Brandies peaches from the glut of peaches I had left over from a teacher party the night before. Yup- there was a teacher party the night before. But that's another story...
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