Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dinner for Nonna

My Granny Barb has generously supported my cooking addiction over the past couple of years – if it wasn't for her there would be no beautiful Paderno pans hanging on my pot rack, no powerful mandoline waiting in my cupboard, no lime-green handled ice cream scoop to perfectly shape the gelato we bring home from Mondo. But, believe it or not, until last weekend, Granny had never had a chance to enjoy the products of these delicious gifts. So, she came to visit, with the request that I cook an Italian meal for her. I invited my Dad and my uncle Ken to dinner as well, to ensure we'd have enough appetites to take care of everything I planned to cook...

Here's what Darryl and I made:
Appetizer – thinly sliced fennel, apples, and proscuitto (wrap your own tasty parcels!)
Pizza – goat cheese, mushroom and basil sauce, with shrimp, pine nuts and roasted garlic (on a whole wheat crust – I made dough the night before and let it rise over night and all day in the fridge, and it turned out great!)
Salad – zucchini, red pepper, and feta, with a mint dressing (everyone seemed to agree that this was the tastiest part of the meal, and I've included the recipe below so that we can make it one Wednesday soon...)
Dessert – Apricot-Almond Meringues (so pretty, and yummy too!)

Uncle Ken brought a great Italian wine which I neglected to write down the name of, so I can't tell you what it was unfortunately. Which is too bad, because I'd drink it again...

Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Feta Salad

3 medium zucchini, halved crosswise and cut into very thin strips (like ribbons! I used the mandoline, but you could also use a vegetable peeler)
1 large red sweet pepper, julienned
feta or ricotta (we used a nice soft and creamy sheep feta, which was awesome)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (or more!) snipped fresh mint
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Combine everything, and toss to coat.

I love zucchini, but hardly ever eat it raw. When it's sliced so thin like this though, it's delicious, and this salad is a cool alternative to Greek Salad.

So, the meal turned out well, and it was really great to have everyone together:

Oh, and one more thing – Granny brought me an amazing hostess gift of two books: Oz Clarke's Introducing Wine and Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Italian. Giada's book has become my new favourite – so far I've tried making White Bean and Tuna Salad, Potato Frittata, and Chicken Piccata (with a sauce of lemon juice, capers, parsley and butter). All three were extremely simple to make, with great combinations of ingredients and a couple of new-to-me techniques that I'll now rely on. Perfect. And the wine book came in handy the other night when I was trying to determine if the spicy popcorn I wanted to make would go with the Cabernet Sauvingnon I was drinking – hmmm, maybe a questionable pairing, but I enjoyed it anyway!


Laura said...

Looks great. Do those meringues have jam on top? Were they piped out? I forget if you mentioned. They may not be for the cooked-fruit impaired, but they look delicious to me! And the salad sounds great too – I saw a very simple mandoline slicer on Iron Chef today, which might work well. Hey, perhaps I could look for it at Gourmet Warehouse! How timely!

Meg said...

They do have jam on top, so yes, definitely not for those who have the hate on for cooked fruit. I used apricot jam, as that's what I had on hand. The recipe called for Raspberry which would be even prettier, and tasty too I'm sure. They were piped out, which was super-fun!