I don't actually cook that much and I don't often have people over for dinner. This is a self-reinforcing cycle, of course. Since I don't cook that often, I don't feel confident as a cook. So I don't cook that much.....
I have friends over for dinner maybe a half-dozen times a year. Mostly in the summer, because for some reason, everything seems so much easier in summer. But, I came back with some loot from Rome that I've been curious to try out and so, here goes. Saturday night, I'll give it a try.
I bought a jar of pistachio pesto, which was intriguing in part because it's a gorgeous green with little black flecks. Near as I can tell, it contains pretty much only Sicilian pistachios and olive oil.
So, my plan is to buy fresh pasta -- perhaps some cute little orecchiette, the pasta that looks like little ears. Then, I'll use the new pesto diluted with more olive oil -- but new olive oil that I brought back from Rome. To what consistency this pesto should be diluted, I'm not sure. I think it has to be fairly thin, to coat the pasta but not get gloopy.
I'll have a lot of fresh pecorino, grated, on the side. It has to be on the side because I'm inviting a friend who is vegan. I think she'll be fine with the pasta and pesto, but she shuns cheese. (Such a life would kill me.)
Another guest is vegetarian, so he'll be shunning the prosciutto I plan to serve as part of an antipasti platter. I don't have the wit to do a lot of complicated appetizers, so I thought I would do a large plate with a mix of different things. I thought I'd serve some prosciutto, wrapped around whatever I can find -- hopefully, figs. If not, it might become prosciutto wrapped in itself! Some small wedges of pecorino, with a dish of honey and balsamic vinegar for drizzling on the cheese. And for my vegan friend, some roasted peppers and some bruschetta with minced tomatoes and basil.
For dessert, I'll rely once more on my tried-and-true panna cotta recipe from the wonderful cooking class I attended alla Madonna del Piatto in Assisi last summer. It's quite simple and tastes great. I top it with sliced strawberries that I marinate all day in a really good, 20-year-old balsamic vinegar from Modena (mixed with a touch of berry sugar). Strawberries are, of course, so very out of season, but I'm amazed how the vinegar marinade can enliven anything! (Maybe I should try bathing in it.)
I hope it works out. If not, I figure there is very little that a lot of good cheese and some wine can't cure. Now, I've to make sure I have enough plates.