Jul 21, 2011

Summertime Socializing

"Summertime and the..." cooking should be easy! Caitlin was visiting Southern California and that was the perfect opportunity to have a small get together on a warm Monday evening.  We enjoyed great conversation and some scrumptious summertime fare with our friends and family.  This post is going to be a little different, a little more relaxed, and isn't that what summer is all about!
Caitlin's 'Roasted Garlic Basil-Pesto Crostini'

2 cups fresh basil, tightly packed
4 garlic cloves, roasted
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
1 fresh baguette (choose your favorite, we opted for French baguette)
For the Ricotta Spread (optional, but recommended):
Fresh Ricotta 
2 or 3 Tbs Cream Cheese 
Extra grated parmesan 
S & P 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roast garlic cloves in the oven. While garlic is roasting, slice baguette thinly and bake until toasted.  Let cool.

Toast pine nuts in a small pan.  Make sure to watch them closely so they don't burn! Combine basil, toasted pine nuts, and garlic in food processor and pulse until chopped.  Add 1/2 of the olive oil and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the remaining oil and pulse until smooth again. Mix in the cheese and get ready to top your baguette.

To make your crostini more delicious you can make a ricotta-cream cheese mixture to spread on some of your slices of bread.  Add 2 or 3 tablespoons to your tub of ricotta.  Mix well.  Add some grated parmesan (to your liking ) and salt and pepper to season. Spread on top of sliced baguette and top with pesto.  You can also add some sliced tomatoes (grilled or fresh) if you choose.  Serve immediately and enjoy! **The pesto is also great on pasta, pizza, or with grilled veggies too!

Monica's 'Summer Quinoa Salad'
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well & cooked
1 diced red pepper
1/2 hothouse cucumber
10 kalamata olives, pitted & diced
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 large avocado, diced
handful of basil, chopped 
juice of 1 lemon
salt (the salt of your preference)
1 tbs dried oregano
Olive oil to drizzle
Fresh pepper (optional)

Rinse and prepare the quinoa as directed.  Let cool.  

While the quinoa is cooling, prepare all the veggies and herbs.  Once the veggies are prepped and the quinoa is cooled to room temperature add the red peppers, cucumber, olives, garbanzo beans.  Add the oregano and squeeze lemon juice.  Drizzle olive oil and season with salt.  You can add some fresh pepper. 

Once the salad is seasoned, gently add the avocado and combine in the salad but make sure you don't smash the avocado.  You can also choose to just slice the avocado and lay it on top of the salad.  Top with fresh basil. Serve immediately and devour!

Summer music should put you in good spirits, especially when you are around your nearest and dearest friends and family.  We chose to listen to some of our faves.
1)  "Oh Yoko!" - John Lennon
2)  "Love and Happiness" - Al Green
3)  "Me Gustas Tu" - Manu Chao
4)  "Summer Days" - Bob Dylan
5)  "A Day in the Life" - Easy Star All Stars
6)  "Keep it Goin' Louder" - Major Lazer

Drink of Choice
Overall this was a meal with fresh and bright flavors - therefore, we opted for a few lighter wine choices.  We recommended a Riesling, Viognier, or Rosé. You could also opt for something like a fizzy lemonade which would also be perfectly delicious!
Would we make these recipes again?
Definitely!  Not only were they quick and easy...they are also incredibly tasty! It was great to be able to cook and entertain together while Caitlin was visiting Southern California.

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