What do you do when you’re running crazy busy and you get a last minute invite for an Italian-inspired dinner party at a friends house and, by the way, “you’re bringing the appetizer!”?
Now, it’s not that I mind bringing the appetizers. I love every course. Sometimes twice in one sitting. (haha. joking. Kinda…)
But, I’m “the salad girl.” Everyone always asks ME to handle the salads (which I love because they’re so easy and I can throw just about anything in the bowl with a “voila!” The appetizer? I don’t mind but what on earth will I ever bring.
Don’t ask me why but pouring over recipes online for a last-minute solution just stresses me out. I’m the food girl, the health food freak girl; the one everyone reasonably expects to bring something healthful and delectable and nail it. (Okay, so maybe these expectations are my own and maybe I just assume that’s what they’re all thinking while everybody is, in fact, equally happy with weenies in a crock. Still, “perception is reality.” Roll with me here.)
In such moments, I’ve found that I take great comfort, even along with some measure of risk, in just throwing stuff together that sounds like it would be good (along with centering around what I happen to already have on hand). My grandmother seemed to always hit this in her southern kitchen, measuring with her eyes and her hands, or just running with whatever sounded good. She used recipes to but I just loved watching her in action, singing old hymns while she prepared that home-cooked goodness for our family. What a gift to share.
So, this is me, striving to follow her legacy with incredibly scrumptious eats. I personally very much enjoyed this throw-together-throw-down of a recipe. Hope you do too!
1.5 cups Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 cups Baby Lima Beans, rinsed and drained
3 Roasted Red Peppers, chopped (about a cup) *(store bought or DIY-it with the recipe below)
12-ish med-large Cloves of Fresh Roasted Garlic *(store bought or DIY-it with the recipe below)
7 halves Sun-Dried Tomatoes, thin sliced (about a half cup)
7-10 Marinated Artichoke Heart Quarters, sliced into medium-sized chunks
1 tbsp Capers
15 large leaves (a good handful) of Fresh Basil, chiffonade or about 1 tbsp Dried
1 tbsp chopped Fresh Oregano or about 1.5 tsp Dried
1 tsp chopped Fresh Thyme or about .5 tsp Dried
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Strong pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
Asiago or (dairy-free) alternative, optional
Belgium Endive or Crostini (store bought or make your own with the recipe below), to serve
Chopped grape and cherry tomatoes, optional
Place all ingredients less the asiago and crostini/endive in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Cover and chill 8-12 hours to allow the flavors to meld and fully develop.
To serve, scoop over fresh crostini or into individual Belgium Endive leaves.
Top with fresh grated Asiago and or fresh chopped tomatoes, if desired.
Made it for yourself? Be sure to drop a comment below and tell me what you think!
DIY Easy Roasted Garlic & Red Peppers
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.
Rinse and dry whole bell peppers. Place on sheet.
Separate garlic cloves from the bulb but don’t peel the individual cloves.
Place garlic on your sheet pan and toss to coat with a touch of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Place pan on center rack of oven and roast.
The garlic should be ready to come out at 20-25 minutes (careful not to overcook it!) at which point you can use a set of tongs to remove the garlic and rotate your peppers. (Alternatively, you could keep your cloves on standby until you rotate your peppers at the 20 minute mark then just drop the cloves on the side of the sheet pan. Time it as you wish.)
Leave the peppers in to roast another 20 minutes or until they start to collapse and lightly char on the skin.
Remove pan from oven and let cool about 5 minutes before working.
By this point, skins on your garlic and sweet peppers should be easy to remove. I like to slice down one side of the pepper, remove the core and flatten to finish the job.
Grab a baguette from your local baker (I know you’re so going for the organic, whole grain one, right?!)
If the bakery has a bread slicer, let it save you the time. Otherwise, slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Brush or drizzle-&-spread extra virgin olive oil on both sides of the bread (careful not to go too heavy on the oil. You want crisp, not greasy.) Sprinkle gently with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Bake until golden crisp, about 8-9 minutes.
*Note, this is best done shortly before serving to maintain a crisp, fresh texture to the crostini.