Have Her Over For Dinner by Matt Moore
Food and Fashion: there’s probably no greater passion to that of our female counterparts. For that very reason, I’ve teamed up with Matt Moore author of Have Her Over for Dinner to create the perfect mélange of both to impress that special someone.
Say what you will about fine dining and expensive nights on the town, but there’s something about a perfect date at home. She’s more likely to remember and appreciate your preparation and effort in the kitchen than the credit card tab at the latest ‘it’ restaurant. For that very reason, I suggest you change things up a bit . . . have her over for dinner.
Whether you are an expert in the kitchen or a novice who relies on the microwave, I’ve got you covered. Any great cook will agree that the secret to a great meal starts with great ingredients. Rather than waste your time on expensive marinades and seasonings, spend your time and money on quality ingredients. Using great ingredients and simple preparation are the keys to an outstanding meal.
With that said, there are certain rules to follow when entertaining at home. First and foremost, make sure you spend some effort making sure your place, including your bathroom, is clean. I’m not talking about a white glove test, but make sure you put away and clean up the obvious. Second, dress appropriately. It need not be formal, as you will be working in the kitchen, but it should definitely put out the vibe that you’ve carefully planned a great evening. Finally, keep it simple.
I’m providing you with instructions for a great meal that’s sure to impress. It’s up to you to decide if you want to make everything listed on the ‘menu’ or just the entrée. Again, focus on quality ingredients and I’ll take care of the rest. Time to crack open a cold beer and get to work.
Antipasti Plate – Nothing beats a dish that requires minimal effort. Most grocery stores will carry a nice variety of items listed below, however if you have a great Italian market in town, start there and ask for suggestions. Serve alongside some toasted Ciabatta bread if a heartier version is desired. Set this out in advance and pair it with a Chianti, Pinot Noir, or Lager of your choice.
¼ lb Italian Cured Meat (Salami, Sopressata, Prosciutto)
¼ lb Italian Cheese (Aged Fontina, Provolone, Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 Cup Marinated Olives
On a serving platter, arrange slices of salami and cheese. Place olives in a smaller bowl and plate on top of the platter. Serve.
Chopped Chickpea Salad – The key to a great salad is simple, clean flavors. This light salad is perfect for refreshing the palate after such a heavy appetizer.
4 Cups Chopped Green Leaf Lettuce, loosely packed
4 Cherry/Grape Tomatoes, halved
¼ Small Red Onion, finely diced
¼ Cup Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt*
½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
½ Teaspoon Italian Blend Seasoning
Combine greens, tomatoes, onions, and chickpeas into a large serving bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine oil and vinegar, mix vigorously to combine ingredients. Pour the mixture over salad and season with salt, pepper, and Italian blend seasoning. Toss well and serve.
Tuscan Style Chicken over Fettuccini – A dish with great contrasts. The cool Tuscan salsa is a great match with the creamy and satisfying fettuccini. Pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or a light Lager/Pilsner of your choice.
1 Vine Ripe Tomato, diced
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
¼ Small Red Onion, finely diced
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 6-8 oz Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
8 oz Dried Fettuccini Pasta
¼ Cup Dry White Wine
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
½ Cup Heavy Cream
½ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat. Meanwhile, combine the first four ingredients into a mixing bowl and season with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix until well combined; cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge, up to one hour before serving. Add pasta to the large pot of water and boil for 7-9 minutes, or al dente; drain and set aside. Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium high heat and season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add oil, followed by the chicken to the skillet and cook, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about 7-9 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Deglaze skillet with wine, scraping up any of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. When mixture returns to a simmer, 1-2 minutes, add butter and melt completely. Add cream, return to a simmer, and remove from heat. Add cooked fettuccini pasta into the skillet along with the grated cheese and mix thoroughly until well combined. Plate a generous serving of the fettuccini in the center of the plate, topped by the chicken breast, and followed with a generous tablespoon of the Tuscan style salsa over the top of the chicken. Serve immediately.
Mixed Berry Ricotta Parfait with Balsamic Syrup – A simple dessert to finish off a great evening. Substitute low-fat vanilla yogurt for the ricotta mixture if desired.
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
½ Cup Ricotta Cheese, divided
¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Mixed Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, etc)
Combine vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat; set aside to cool completely. Meanwhile, blend vanilla extract into the ricotta cheese until thoroughly combined. In martini glasses, plate equal servings of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of each glass. Top with equal portions of mixed berries and drizzle with the cooled balsamic syrup.