We had two couples over the other night, and considering I've been away most of the summer, I was pretty excited to get out all those pots and pans and make a nice meal. I went with a healthy Italian theme (and yes, there is such a thing; meaning none of that drenched in cream and butter sauce kind of thing). I served shrimp as an appetizer, because it was quick and easy, and put the time into the meal.
Caprese Salad--using Roma tomatoes that my friend Marci gave me from her garden (so fresh and SO good), and some chunks of fresh Mozzarella I picked up at the grocery store, I assembled a Caprese Salad. It's pretty darn simple--drizzle a good quality olive oil on the bottom of the dish, top with a layer of sliced tomatoes, some freshly ground salt and pepper, and a few chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella (the white kind, not the yellow kind). Chiffonade some fresh basil, sprinke on top. Repeat the layers. Let it sit for a little while--half hour or so--to let the flavors marry.
Then I made Roasted Broccoli, which again is very, very simple. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Slice the broccoli florets in half (so they'll lay flat on the cookie sheet) and peel the stalks. Toss the chopped broccoli with a little olive oil, a teaspoon of sugar and a half teaspoon of kosher salt. Then roast for about 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through. Keep an eye on it--if your stalks are tiny, it might take less time.
The two dishes that took the most time were the main course and dessert (I followed Ina Garten's rule of thumb of only having one or two time-consuming dishes and making the rest easy to make so you have more time and aren't feeling insane kitchen pressure).
Chicken Saltimbocca: I used an America's Test Kitchen recipe for this one. Although they called for chicken cutlets (or pounding out chicken breasts, one of my least favorite things to do), I used tenderloins instead, making sure to cut out that one little tough tendon. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and put the oven on 200 degrees. Dredge the breasts in a mix of flour and a bit of pepper. Chiffonade two tablespoons of sage, and slice pieces of prosciutto to fit the breasts. Sprinkle the floured breasts with the sage, top with a piece of prosciutto, and fry, prosciutto side first, until golden. Flip and fry on the other side until cooked through, then put in a pan and keep the cooked pieces warm in the oven as you cook the others. (I apologize that some of my pictures aren't the best but I was trying to get dinner on the table, LOL).
When you're done, use the same pan to cook the sauce: Pour in 1 1/4 cups of white wine, and boil it down until it's reduced to 1/3 cup. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 4 tablespoons of cold butter, one tablesoon at a time, stirring after each addition. At the end, add one tablespoon of minced parsley. Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve. This was REALLY REALLY good. Most of our guests had two servings, so I'm figuring they liked it too ;-)
My piece de resistance was dessert: Ina Garten's Mixed Berry Pavolva. I followed this recipe exactly EXCEPT for the sweetened whipped cream. I just used Cool Whip. ;-) Sue me ;-). This was AWESOME. AMAZING. So good, I would have eaten the whole thing by myself if it wouldn't have been completely rude, LOL (and if I could have stopped people from going back for seconds). I will DEFINITELY make this again. Highly recommend it. It also makes for a pretty stunning presentation, and is VERY easy to make (meringue isn't all that complex), so if you want to impress your friends, go for this dessert.
All in all, a great night. Makes me want to have another dinner party :-)