Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Dinner Party

Last night we had friends over for dinner. It rained all day and drizzled most of the night, so we couldn't eat outside. Other than that it was a fun night, and all the food was great.

Because I had a race in the morning and knew I wouldn't have a ton of time to prepare, I decided on a simple pasta dish as the main course and then added Italian-themed food to round out the pasta.


White Bean Spread with Truffle Oil. I made it once before and loved it, and it was just as good this time. I think I let out an "mmmmm!" every time I had a bite. This time I didn't have time to cook the beans, so I just used two cans of beans and then boiled the garlic on their own without the beans. As before, the truffle oil really makes this spread special, so if you decide to make this, splurge and get the truffle oil (I found it at my local grocery store.) I served the spread with crackers. See the recipe I posted a few years ago.

Olives. I don't like olives so just picked out a few different kinds at the Whole Foods olive bar.

Strawberries. A big bowl of sweet, juicy, organic strawberries is always a great appetizer!


Ruby Red Sangria. I made this recipe for Ruby Red Sangria which pairs ruby red grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and sugar with red wine.  I added apples, blueberries, and strawberries. This sangria wasn't strong or super sweet. It was actually a little tart. I liked it but drank way too much!


The main meal was Pasta with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce by Vegan Yum Yum (recipe). The sauce is very simple and fresh, and the creaminesss comes from cashews. This sauce is by no means light or low calorie. Between the cashews and the olive oil, it's pretty decadent. But so delicious! I had based this whole meal on getting fresh pasta from Penn Mac in the Strip. When I walked to the Strip to get it, I discovered that the fresh pasta is not vegan but is made with eggs. Darn! I bought the egg fettucine to serve to everyone else and then made myself some whole-wheat spaghetti. It was still delicious!

My friend bought a salad with a lime-oil vingaigrette. She also brought a plate of salad add-ons so that everyone could add what they wanted, which was a great idea. I also had crusty white Italian bread and olive oil and balsamic to dip it in.


The best part, as always! I was super excited to make the vegan Lemon Bars from Veganomicon/Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar (see the recipe at No Meat Athlete). I had never made them before and thought they'd be the perfect summer dessert.

Most vegan desserts I make use basic ingredients, but this one called for agar agar flakes, which are a gelatin substitute. I had to make a trip to Whole Foods to pick up a bag, and they were pricey...but well worth it!

The crust was something like a big sugar cookie. I could have eaten just the crust and been happy!

The filling was made by dissolving the agar agar flakes in boiling water, then adding lemon juice mixed with arrowroot powder (another thickener that I already have in my pantry), sugar, and lemon zest. You whisk it until it thickens then pour it onto the crust and let it refrigerate until it sets.

Absolutely delicious! We all loved it. I'd absolutely make it again...and just might have to so that I can use up those pricey agar agar flakes!