Lately Mr. Foodie and I are seriously bonding over our mutual love of summer entertaining. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much of it we would be able to do this summer thanks to our A/C dying, our yardless/porchless/balconyless condo, our lack of a dining table that seats more than 4, and our strict HOA. The A/C dying made the house unbearably hot, but we are now making do with a mobile room unit that works like a charm. Instead of turning the oven on, we use our adorable grill. We solved the lack of a yard/porch situation by organizing the garage so I could still park and easily roll the grill in and out for impromptu grilling sessions. I secured, after many angry emails, a bunch of parking passes from our HOA to get around the aggressive towing agenda they have in summer when the pool is open. Finally, although Mr. Foodie and I love our high top table in the breakfast nook for everyday eating, we found that it is much more comfy to eat with our guests in the living room (near the mobile A/C unit), so we packed it with a variety of seating options from fold-up stools and benches to our couch and arm chair. We plug in the twinkle lights, turn on the record player, and dig in.
Sure, everyone has to balance their plates on their knees, and we only have a tiny coffee table, but I like to think our food makes up for any lack of comfort. Some day Mr. Foodie and I will have a long, sturdy table on a paved patio with string lights and a small garden (or so we’ve daydreamed many times), but we aren’t letting that ideal stop us from doing our thing in the present. And our thing right now is grilling!
And grilling, for us, means entertaining. There’s something about grilling that makes you want to mingle – maybe it’s because grilling lends itself to large cuts of meat and whole veggies, the better to share the bounty. I don’t think we’d fire up the grill just to make two pork chops and a simple salad. Even when we are grilling for just the two of us, we use that opportunity to butcher a whole chicken and grill all the pieces to use throughout the week.
Last weekend was a long one thanks to the 4th of July holiday, so we took advantage to eat with family and friends almost every day. One of those days we had my parents and my aunt over for dinner. We ended up making two new (to us) dishes that turned out splendidly: Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad. Unfortunately I do not have great pictures of these dishes because it was an impromptu dinner and I was busy cooking/entertaining! But trust me when I say that these were delicious.
For the stuffed shrooms, I cleaned each cap, scooped out the gills and retained the stalks of each. In a large pan I sauteed onion, garlic, the diced stalks, and ground turkey. Mr. Foodie grilled the caps by themselves for 10-15 minutes (depending on size) at medium-high heat. Then we added the stuffing and sprinkled bread crumbs and cheese on top of each one before returning them to the grill. Once everything is heated and the cheese melts, they’re ready! These were hearty and packed with flavor, but also light compared to other types of meat-based entrees like burgers or brats.
For the pasta salad, we riffed on the flavors in our famous Roasted Red Pepper and Fontina Turkey Burgers. I had three roasted red peppers in oil from the olive bar which I diced, retaining the oil. I also had shredded fontina (you could also small dice whole fontina if you wanted to). I cooked a pound of wheat penne until al dente, rinsed it, drained it, and let it cool. I tossed the pasta with the diced pepper, the pepper oil, and the cheese. I added a bit more olive oil to coat all the noodles and tasted it – perfection! It did not need any additional salt or garlic powder as I had assumed it would. The cheese lent its creamy, salty bite and the red pepper brightened up the whole dish while giving it immense flavor. You can’t beat a three-ingredient pasta salad!
Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
6 Portabella Mushrooms, gills removed, stems diced and reserved
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 medium cooking onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
Clean and prepare mushroom caps. Set aside on a baking sheet. Combine the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a large saute pan and cook until the onions soften. Season with pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground turkey and cook through, breaking it up and seasoning again with salt and pepper at the end. Set aside. Grill mushroom caps directly on grill with medium high heat for 10-15 minutes. Add filling to mushroom caps, topping with breadcrumbs and cheese to taste and grill for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and crumbs are browned. The filling is easily made ahead of time and you can prep the shrooms ahead if you want as well.
Roasted Red Pepper and Fontina Pasta Salad
1 lb pasta (penne)
3 whole roasted red peppers in oil
1 1/2 C Shredded Fontina Cheese (or diced cubes)
Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Rinse, drain, and let cool in serving bowl. Small dice roasted red peppers, retaining oil. Add diced peppers, pepper oil, and fontina cheese to cooled pasta; mix. Taste for seasoning. Add seasoning if desired. Can be made well ahead of time.