May 31, 2011

garden squash & eggplant pizzas

Friday night, we had friends over for dinner. They swing vegetarian too, so cooking up a meatless meal was not an issue. And we had quite the harvest from the garden last week, making for a nice selection of veggies to choose from. They're kind, open-minded friends who would politely eat even my worst culinary creation . . . But they didn't have to feign interest because (spoiler alert) this dinner was awesome.

After the pizza success earlier this month, I decided to go with something foolproof and serve garden-fresh pizzas to our guests. Let me tell you what made this a good game plan:

• I planned ahead (I know, I know—brilliant! Every meal should start this way!)
• I didn't put too much pressure on myself ("No big deal" = mantra)
• I practiced the recipe before serving it to guests (Shocking development!)*
• I gave myself plenty of time, prepping the dough before going to work and chopping veggies a couple of hours before guests arrived (Time? Who knew?)
• I chose recipes that, even if something went a little awry, they'd be good (Um, hello, PIZZA)**
• I kept it fairly simple and asked the guests to bring dessert—one less thing to worry over. (And boy did they deliver.)

I highly recommend such a game plan if you're at all like me: Nervous. Scatterbrained. Forgetful. Buckling under the pressure to perform. Wishing you could be drinking wine with your guests instead of stressing away in the kitchen.

That's right! With a little forethought, I actually put on a successful dinner party. It was, dare I say, so much fun that I'm doing it again in two weeks. We'll be having garden pizza and salad (I'm a quick learner).

* This isn't entirely true. I tried the recipe once, exactly as the recipe was written. But who am I to make the same recipe twice? Due to the garden yield, I decided to change it up. Riffing on that same theme, I scrapped the zukes for yellow squash and the orange bell for two baby purple bells from our garden. Those made for two great substitutions and I highly recommend being brave.
** Yeah, so I did actually bust out a new recipe, found day-of-dinner-party, and it was amazing. I had two small, perfectly-hued eggplant from the garden and wanted to use them. Smitten Kitchen came through as usual with a grilled eggplant and provolone pizza recipe (thank you, Google). This one was a white pie (without marinara sauce) and was my hubby's favorite of the evening—the first time he's ever referred to an eggplant dish as his favorite. So, that was, like, totally awesome.

The full menu, so you can plan ahead for your next dinner soiree:
• Salad (store-bought greens) with garden tomatoes, snap peas, green beans, and Mother's Cashew-Tamari Dressing
• Garden Squash, Bell Pepper, and Goat Cheese Pizza on homemade spelt crust
• Garden Eggplant, Olive, Parsley, and Provolone Pizza on homemade spelt crust
• Vanilla ice cream with local blueberries

Stay tuned to find out just what's happening in the garden this week . . . Bad news: we've got borers. Good news: It's not too late to re-plant.


Elizabeth said...

Have you grilled pizza before? We did that for a dinner party a couple weeks ago. Delish.

Borers took out my squash plant too! How do you prevent those awful things?