This week Melissa and Sarah take their vegetarian lunch adventure to the grill! Woohoo! We've been meaning to grill all summer, but for some reason every time we pick a day it starts to rain. This time was no exception - rain was forecasted starting in the afternoon - but we decided to try and grill before it started, and we succeeded! Finally!
This flatbread had been kicking around in our minds for a while, the product of brainstorming, and I am so pleased with the way it turned out! Crispy grilled flatbread topped with pesto, grilled and fresh veggies, feta, and fresh basil - the epitome of Summer.
First, we made the flatbread dough - which is very easy and requires no yeast or rising time! Just flour, salt, baking powder, water, milk, and oil mixed together.
Melissa and I have been going through our recipes to see what areas we are lacking in, and sandwiches are definitely one of them. She has been growing tomatoes and basil in her yard, which just beg to become caprese. But instead of just making a salad, we tried to figure out how to turn it into a sandwich. Melted cheese is clearly superior to un-melted cheese, so of course we made a panini!
We spread slices of Italian bread with basil mayonnaise, then layered in fresh mozzarella and balsamic marinated tomato slices (our attempt to get balsamic flavor without adding too much liquid) with fresh basil (you can't have enough basil). Then we placed them on a panini grill and cooked until the cheese was melted and the outside was golden.
The sandwiches were so gooey and yummy - I loved it! But the bottoms did get a little soggy, so next time I will toast the bread on one side before spreading the mayo on the toasted side, then putting the sandwich together and grilling as usual. I think that this will help keep it from getting soggy. I also might put basil mayo on the outside of the sandwich to help brown it up and because it is delicious.
Last month, I signed up to bring pasta salad to a potluck. In typical me fashion, I decided that I had to make it myself. After cruising the internet for a bit, I came across a recipe with smoked gouda, which was all I needed to be sold. Roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts? Total bonus.
I choose to use gemelli for my pasta because it is my favorite and it is really structurally sound - it holds up to anything. While that was boiling, I diced up my roasted peppers and artichoke hearts (I was lucky to find grilled ones at the store). I had a couple of tomatoes hanging around, so I chopped those up and threw them in too. After I rinsed the pasta in cold water (normally a big no-no, but good for pasta salads), I tossed it with the veggies and the cubed gouda.
Then came the dressing, where I inexplicably decided to take the opposite route and go quick and easy. I used mayonnaise and bottled Italian dressing and it came out just right - light and flavorful. You are of course welcome to make your own dressing from scratch. Top with fresh herbs and go! This is hearty and fresh and super yummy - it was very popular at the potluck, thank goodness!
Wednesday night's DC Wine Week event was an outdoor wine tasting at the Italian Ristorante I Ricchi. Venders offered tastings of 16 Italian wines, plus 2 full glasses of your choice. Cheese and charcuterie were served, as well as a few grilled dishes, while Chef Ricchi herself made the rounds to talk with guests.
Chef Ricchi managed a family restaurant in Tuscany for close to two decades, before coming to DC to open a restaurant here in 1989. She serves authentic, rustic Tuscan food and creates events like the weekly Women's Club - where women can enjoy 50% off while they network. We really enjoyed talking with her about Tuscany, where we spent our honeymoon.
The grilled food we were served at the event consisted of a decent chicken skewer and an outstanding bean and sausage dish. The later contained white beans with tomato and rosemary, served with a grilled sausage and a stick of (addictive) fried polenta.
The wines served were as follows:
Prosecco – Canella N/V
Ribolla Gialla Sparkling - Colutta
Lambrusco Amabile - Ca’ Montanari
Vernaccia di San Gimignano – Montenidoli
Pinot Grigio – Jermann
Chardonnay – Antica, Antinori
Soave Classica – Suavia
Greco di Tufo – Loggia Della Serra
Valpolicella Classico – Nicolis
Dolcetto – Marcarini Boschi di Berri
Il Bruciato – Guado al Tasso, Antinori
Chianti Classico – Il Molino di Grace
Cabernet Sauvignon – Antica, Antinori
Col Solare – Antinori/Chateau Ste. Michelle
Barbera d'Asti – Damilano
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Fattoria del Cerro
The standouts for us were the Soave Classica (a funky, earthy white) and the Col Solare (predominately Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec). We were offered the opportunity to purchase the showcased wines at a discount from Schneider's of Capitol Hill.
The weather was gorgeous, the piazza was lovely, and the wine was flowing - truly a lovely night.
Halloumi is a salty, dense Greek cheese that is super amazing when grilled. My friend Melissa, from Smells Like Brownies, is a big fan so she was pretty excited when I showed her this recipe. Hearty quinoa mixed with lettuce and veggies and topped with warm cheese - delish!
We didn't end up having the cucumbers the original recipe called for, so we used tomatoes instead and they were great. I do really like cucumbers, though, so I would say to use both. The more veg, the better, right? The dressing includes red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, and scallion - yum!
We also discovered (by oiling one side and not the other of an electric grill) that the cheese gets better grill marks when the grill is not oiled. Don't worry, though, it won't stick!
This is a very satisfying (and light!) vegetarian lunch that is sure to make even meat eaters happy.
The last time I posted a recipe for you was over a month ago! Oh my goodness! You have my deepest apologies, dear readers, and to make it up to you I will post not 1, not 2, but 3 delicious summer recipes for you!
Let's start with this gorgeous zucchini tart from Closet Cooking (which is a blog that I highly recommend). Puff pastry is topped with a mixture of ricotta, feta, lemon, fresh herbs, and an egg along with thinly sliced zucchini and baked to puffy, golden perfection. Served on its own or with a side salad, this is the perfect summer lunch.
Next up, take advantage of those juicy summer tomatoes in a slightly different take on a fresh tomato pasta with a Roasted Tomato Sauce.
Ah, summer - hot weather, cool drinks, fresh produce, grilling. For me, summer is mostly about air conditioning and trying not to get sunburned; but there are times when I get excited about it - beach trips, BBQ's, long days. On one of these bouts of enthusiasm I decided that I wanted legit summer food, so here it is.