I made quite the vegetarian feast last night, with help from Robin, Emily, and Chris. There were two amazing things about this meal which set it apart from other cooking adventures were that the food came out at the right time, so we weren’t waiting around too long for the next course, and things didn’t get cold. The other thing was that there were almost no leftovers, except for some blanched asparagus that will make a good late-night snack tonight.
To start off, we had a stracciatella, which is an Italian soup. Mine had vegetable broth and garlic simmered for a little while, to which you add fresh spinach and then shortly thereafter beaten eggs, parmesan, and bread crumbs with some salt and pepper. Once the eggs bind it’s ready to serve.
Robin took charge of the funghi arrosto con pignoli (mushrooms roasted with pine nuts) to which Emily added a generous helping of red pepper flakes. The next time we make this I’ll have to get a slotted baking dish so that the juices from the mushrooms drain out. I didn’t want to spring for the porcini mushrooms, but the Berkeley Bowl had some lovely large brown mushrooms that were plenty flavorful. This is a much easier dish than the rice-stuffed crimini/baby bella/porcini that I usually make.
For the main course I turned to How To Cook Everything, one of the best purchases I’ve made in the last year and a half (thanks, Winnie!). Simple food is often good food. Take the asparagus baked with parmesan for example. Emily said it was the best asparagus she’s ever had. Part of that has to go to the quality produce out here, but the cheese and asparagus together were pretty killer. The pasta was fettucine with spinach and cream sauce, which was also super-easy to make but very tasty, probably because of the butter and heavy cream. Fat is good.
The dessert was my favorite though — I found it in a book called The Vegetarian Feast that I picked up in a used bookstore. Bananas with dried raisins and apples, poached in white wine with vanilla. And some fresh whipped cream (with the rest of the heavy cream) on the side. I am going to devote my life to studying desserts made with bananas I think — they are so yummy!
For wine, there was a zinfandel from D Cubed (Napa Valley) and a pinot noir from Greenstone Point (Australia). The total cost per person was probably around $10, thanks to the Berkeley Bowl’s cheap (and delicious) produce.