You may have already guessed that we love ourselves a dinner party. Love it! From planning the menu, shopping for the groceries and assembling all the goodies in the kitchen to passing out the plates, laughing with friends, and of course sipping on some wine. Our parties usually involve lots of wine–that’s just how we do. Then there’s the dancing around the kitchen when the food tastes just right. Our parties always involve lots of dancing…tasting and dancing. It all brings us complete joy. The best part of the whole thing is sitting down after all the hard work and taking that first bite. What’s better? We just don’t know!
These dinner gatherings usually involve us hosting and cooking everything, but it wasn’t too long ago we were on the East coast and invited to a dinner party where the whole meal was prepared by someone else–a lovely couple by the names of Brooke and Ben. We love these parties just as much–the ones where we arrive and just eat. It really was wonderful handing over the apron and being the guest for a change. The food looked absolutely beautiful and tasted so delectable that we had no choice but to recreate a similar feast for our friends a couple of weeks ago. We observed all of the food prep during the first party and took notes of the hosts’ cooking prowess. This post captures our version of that special meal Brooke and Ben created. We did our own little spin to each dish of course, but the essence of the original feast was there, even their idea of cooking most of the meal “en papillote”. So fancy.
We had leftover rosemary spiced almonds chilling in the freezer that we used in every dish. Of course plain almonds work just as well, but these certainly added an extra level of flavor we weren’t expecting. Steaming food in parchment paper is not only easy, it’s a great way to cook just about anything. And it’s very healthy. Plus it just looks fancier and more involved than it really is–a great way to show off to your friends and family, or that “certain someone” you want to impress with your cooking expertise.
If there is anything we want you to get from this post, it is to go out and throw your own dinner party, especially if you’ve never hosted one before. Now is the time. Do it this weekend! Make whatever you want. Just do it! And if you want to invite us, we will definitely be there with our bottles of wine in tow, ready to dish on it all!
Red Snapper with Thyme Pesto and Couscous – Serves 6 to 8
1 box of whole wheat couscous
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
8 ounces artichoke hearts (save juice in the can)
1 cup water or broth
1/3 cup white wine
Zest of 1 lemon
2 pounds red snapper (or any white fish)
2 bundles fresh thyme, about 6 tablespoons
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Make thyme pesto by combining all ingredients in a food processor until fairly smooth. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
2. For couscous, in a small bowl, mix the grains with parsley, garlic, coriander, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
3. Spread a large piece of parchment paper on a flat cookie sheet or pan, so it covers the whole surface. With artichoke hearts, make a wall around the parchment paper so a large oval forms (make sure to leave an inch or so of space near the edges so the parchment paper can be easily sealed).
4. Spread couscous mixture evenly in the artichoke hearts. Top with cherry tomatoes and almonds.
5. Mix the water or broth with the remaining juices from the artichoke hearts, along with the wine and pour evenly over couscous. Place fish fillets over couscous in an even layer.
7. Evenly spread pesto over fish and seal with another piece of parchment paper, forming an enclosed bag by folding in the edges all around. Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, or until couscous is no longer crunchy.
Honey Grapefruit Salad Dressing – Approximately 1 cup
4 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1. For the dressing, whisk the ingredients above until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
We also layered slices of fresh Pecorino Romano and more almonds on the salad greens, which paired nicely with the dressing.
Click HERE for printable recipes.