Saturday evening dinner party

I’ve lived in this house for almost six years and my favorite room is the screen porch.  It’s the perfect place for entertaining in the summer.  I also got a new grill recently so I thought it was the perfect time to break both in.  I invited Jessica and Amy over for a grilling feast:

Tomato and Watermelon Caprese Salad with Basil Granita
Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauces
Grilled Vegetable Packets
Grilled Pizza with Honeyed Goat Cheese and Strawberries

This salad was beyond amazing. The watermelon added the right amount of crispness and the basil granita was icy and perfect. The granita was a little futzy because I had to take it in and out of the freezer quite a few times to get it to the right consistency to scoop, but it was so worth it.

Tomato-Watermelon Caprese with Basil Granita – serves 4 as side dish
adapted from Running with Tweezers

For basil granita:

one small bunch fresh basil – washed, dried and de-stemmed
1 tsp. sugar
8 ounces cold water
– Add all ingredients to blender and puree on high until fully combined and there are no large pieces of basil remaining. Pour liquid into glass/non-reactive shallow baking dish and place in freezer. Periodically check on mixture and fork to loosen as it freezes – every 15 minutes or so – until it reaches desired consistency.

For salad/assembly:

8 oz. container of mozzarella bocconcini
2 cups watermelon pieces scooped with melon baller
1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, optional
– Mix all ingredients together save for the optional olive oil and vinegar. Before serving, top salad with melon ball scoops of basil granita. If dressing the salad, do so at the very end for presentations sake.

We’d had a few glasses of wine by this point and I forgot to take a picture when I plated things, but you get the general idea. It seems like chicken breasts are so huge and thick these days, I prefer recipes where you pound them thin. It also cuts down on the grilling time and I’m much more confident that the chicken is cooked through without getting too dry.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Adapted from
4 boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon each of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme
1 clove minced garlic
4 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

If breasts are too large, cut on the diagonal. Put each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound lightly to flatten evenly. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces.
Lightly oil the grill or grill pan. Grill over medium coals or medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Goat Cheese Sauce:
Combine olive oil, wine, and chicken broth in a saucepan; simmer over medium heat until reduced by about 1/2. Add the fresh herbs, garlic, goat cheese, and salt and pepper. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened. Our sauce never really thickened, but we did let it simmer for over thirty minutes and it was still fabulous.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
Roast two red peppers (or use a jar of roasted red peppers).  In the food processor, combine roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup olive oil, one clove of garlic, and four or five basil leaves.  Process until the consistency you like.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Vegetable Packets
This is a recipe we came up with a few years ago. You can use just about any vegetable, although if they are going to be on the grill for a bit, I recommend putting the heartier vegetables on the bottom (such as zucchini).
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 roma tomatoes sliced
1 red onion sliced
1 stick butter
Herbs – dried or fresh to taste
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Slice all of the vegetables so they are roughly the same thickness. Divide between two foil packets. Melt the butter in a saucepan, adding the herbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the butter over the vegetables and top generously with the bread crumbs. Seal the foil packets and place on the grill over medium heat for 20 minutes. We used to flip the packets, but then the butter ran out and it just didn’t work.

I’m going to skip the grilled pizza recipe because it just wasn’t that fabulous. I burned the crust on the grill, the strawberries had too much liquor in them and really, there are better dessert recipes out there.


One Response to “Saturday evening dinner party”

  1. Tartelette Says:

    My invitation got lost in the mail….! Looks delicious! Lucky friends. We too enjoy the porch (not screened in though) quite a lot for bbquing and parties.
    Lovely menu!

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