Thursday, May 28, 2009

Graduate Vegetarian (Mostly) Feast

Last weekend was a very fun one indeed. My friend Risher was to be conferred a Bachelor’s degree at Bard College so Matt, the soon-to-be grad, and I piled into a rental and dashed upstate. Graduations are not your everyday party and they happen rarely so when they come around, you have to take advantage. We spent the whole weekend partying our faces off engaging in all sorts of commencement shenanigans like tent parties, diner breakfasts, and fireworks. When our ragtag crew arrived safely back home with splitting headaches and hungry bellies, I hit the gourmet grocer and set to work preparing a mostly vegetarian meal. The three of us did not really feel like eating meat for the third or fourth night straight and given our tender stomachs and overall sluggish nature I thought a light meal would snap us out of our hangovers. The first course was a corn bruschetta with herbed ricotta, bell pepper, and scallions. The dish was both sweet and savory with the corn bringing a nice crunch to the party. I really loved this dish, which was a total experiment, and will certainly be making it again as sweet corn season hits this summer.

After collectively swearing off alcohol that morning over breakfast, the three of us rethought our rash severance with drink and treated ourselves to a little hair of the dog, in this case a sixer of Stella to drink with the food. The second course was a bean dish that I make often with whatever fresh bean or pea I have on hand. Lima beans with red onion, mint, and sea salt is as easy to make as one would imagine given it only has four principal ingredients. I usually blanch shelled beans in salted water for three minutes before throwing then in a pan with butter, minced red onion, and finely chopped fresh mint which brings a bright herbal flare to the beans. A healthy pinch of flaky sea salt like Maldon’s or fleur de sel completes the dish. I highly recommend this easy and powerfully good side; all it takes is a knife and about fifteen minutes. It is also very versatile with any number of fresh or canned beans possible; I have even used edamame though fava are my go to bean in this scenario.

The third course was one of my personal favorites; prosciutto wrapped asparagus. These tender little bundles blanketed in crisp ham are so damn good and addictive that it is hard to share a platter of them. It was definitely the hit of the night which I gleaned from the quickness they were devoured. Just blanch the asparagus for a couple of minutes and then wrap them individually in a thin sheet of prosciutto. Bake them in a layered baking dish at 350 for fifteen minutes, sprinkle them with grated parmesan and balsamic vinegar, then return them to the oven to melt the cheese. It was great to spend the weekend with two good friends, especially to celebrate such a momentous occasion. This mostly vegetarian meal was the perfect way to cap a debaucherous though sentimental weekend. After six years, a super super senior, my man Risher got handed the diploma and the keys to the next chapter in his life. Way to go buddy. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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