On Saturday, Aug. 22, my parents will celebrate their 33rd year of marriage. I hate to say it, but I've never thrown them an anniversary party — until now! I've invited over a bunch of my parents' friends for a pool party and barbecue. The event will be festive, but casual, so I'm selecting a menu that reflects this vibe.
Things will kick off with mini peach and pesto pizzas. For the main course, I'll serve what they had at their wedding: chicken, grilled and stuffed with fresh tomatoes and basil. A huge helping of antipasto pasta salad is the ideal side because it serves a crowd and can be made in advance. For these scrumptious recipes,
1 clove garlic
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
One 13.8-oz tube refrigerated pizza dough
2 tomatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
2 small peaches, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- In a food processor, chop the garlic. Add 1/2 cup basil, the pecans, 1/2 cup olive oil, the parmesan, vinegar, salt and pepper and puree into pesto.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch square.
- Cut into 8 squares and prick each one several times with a fork. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake until golden, 12 minutes. Let cool.
- Spread 1 teaspoon of the pesto on each square and top with overlapping tomato and peach slices. Slice the remaining 1/2 cup basil into thin strips and sprinkle on the pizza. Season with salt.
- Appetizers, Finger Foods
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Butterfly chicken breasts: Put halves on a cutting board, smooth sides down, with the pointed ends facing you. Starting on one long side, cut breasts almost in half horizontally (stop about 1/2 inch before reaching the opposite side). Open cut breasts like a book.
- Sprinkle each piece all over with 1/8 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Transfer to a plate, and coat both sides with garlic and oil. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Heat a grill or grill pan until medium-hot. Place 3 basil leaves on the bottom half of each opened chicken breast; top each with 2 slices tomato. Fold over other half of chicken breast, and secure with two toothpicks or short skewers.
- Grill chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.
- Place on a clean serving platter; garnish with basil. If desired, remove toothpicks or skewers before serving.
- Poultry, Main Dishes
12 ounces linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large (5-inch-diameter) portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills removed, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 ounces 1/8-inch-thick slices Genoa salami, cut into thin strips
1 cup sliced vegetables and 6 tablespoons marinade from 16-ounce jar antipasto salad with olives
2 cups grated Asiago cheese, divided
2 cups chopped fresh basil, divided
- Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Heat oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender and brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add salami; toss 30 seconds.
- Add pasta, 1/2 cup cooking liquid, sliced vegetables, reserved marinade, and 1 1/2 cups cheese; toss until liquid thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Mix in 1 1/2 cups basil.
- Season with pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup basil; serve with 1/2 cup cheese.
- Pasta/Noodle, Side Dishes