Make Spring Eating Even Easier
It's a problem we often face. Trying too hard. Making things just a bit harder than they need to be.
Recently, I have had several friends ask me why it's so hard to cook a company dinner. They will invite someone over for dinner and suddenly the simple act of cooking a nice meal becomes intimidating.
Here is my best advice—focus on having fun and relax! First of all, sharing a meal is about much more than the food. It's about breaking bread, catching up and giving friends a chance to relax together. Let's face it, if you are inviting someone to your home for a meal, it's an occasion. But it doesn't have to be a stressful one. Here's my plan for a party.
First, I will focus on fresh ingredients. The farm to table trend works even better at home than in a swanky restaurant. If you think about serving things family style at the table, great garden fresh vegetables will make the party pretty. Just celebrate the rainbow and the whole meal gets easier. If you cook your veggies for just a few minutes over high heat, you keep the fresh flavor and shorten your own prep time. You can do this by using the grill and keeping your kitchen cool or by just sautéing veggies on high heat for 5 minutes.
Second, pick an easy entrée. Try something you like and are confident cooking. One of my favorite spring dishes is marinated pork tenderloin. It's inexpensive this time of year and doesn't require much preparation. You can even cook it on the grill, keeping your kitchen cooler.
Third, make one or two dishes cold ones. This is especially easy if you make a big salad ahead of time and just add dressing at the table. Or think about a bowl of crisp cucumber slices and thinly sliced red onions dressed with a dill vinaigrette that you can chill and put on the table just before serving.
When it's hot outside, you can make dessert something everyone loves—ice cream or gelato. If you are worried about making it pretty, scoop it into small dishes and put those individual servings in the freezer until you need them—or ask your friends to help themselves after dinner!
Here's my favorite spring company supper menu:
Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary
Sautéed Zucchini and Tiny Tomatoes
Cucumber salad with red onions
Bakery Rolls with Farm Butter
Sea Salt Caramel Gelato with cookies
Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary
2 to 3 pork tenderloins
½ cup Italian dressing
6 fresh rosemary sprigs, about 3 inches long
Place all the ingredients on a large zip lock plastic bag, put it in the refrigerator for an hour or two—while you set the table for dinner and preheat the grill or oven. Once the grill is hot or once the oven reaches 375ºF. Place the rosemary sprigs on the grill and put the pork on top of it on the grill or do the same on a sheet pan in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the pork is at least 145ºF internal temperature (but no more than 155ºF.) Once the pork is cooked, discard the rosemary (if you used the grill, the rosemary will probably be charred anyway) and let the pork rest on a platter for 10 to 15 minutes before you slice it.
Sautéed Zucchini with Tiny Tomatoes
2 medium fresh zucchini, sliced into thin disks
1 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
¼ cup green onions, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoons fresh herbs, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Either prepare a large flat foil envelope and heat your grill on high or heat the olive oil in a large, flat sautee pan. If you are using the grill, layer the zucchini, tomatoes and onions in a foil envelope and sprinkle the vegetables with salt, pepper and spices. If you are using the stove, Add the zucchini to the hot pan and cook it on high for three minutes, turning the squash halfway through the three minutes. Add the tomatoes and green onions and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, just until the tomatoes start to wrinkle a little. Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper and serve immediately.