Tapas with Friends

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! After a much-needed hiatus, Reckless in the Kitchen is back in action and I have got some lovely recipes for you to enjoy. Today I am going to share my menu and recipes from a Tapas party I recently hosted.

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It was a small gathering of friends and since it was the end of July I was striving to keep the food light and fresh (aka I did not want to slave over the stove for hours or have my oven on for a particularly long time). I also wanted my food to have an Italian theme to it so I picked some of my favorite Italian party dishes, and a few new ones and created the following menu;

The Menu:

  • Anti Pasta plate
  • Nectarine-Basil-Mozzarella Salad
  • Sicilian Marinated Shrimp
  • Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini
  • Polenta Bruschetta
  • Gazpacho
  • Mini-Meatballs with Sauce
  • Lemons filled with Cream

Below I’ve listed the recipes and/or assembly instructions. I’ll let you know right now that the Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini and the Lemons filled with Cream were big hits with my guests!

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How I Assemble an Anti-Pasta Plate:

Now if there is one thing I have learned, it is that everyone assembles these just a bit differently. For this particular evening I was trying to keep this dish relatively small since I was preparing several small plates of food. So here’s my rule of thumb; 1-2 meats, 1-2 hard cheeses, olives, and other vegetables that I associate with Anti-Pasta plates. I know, that’s not super specific, but the point is you can really make these your own depending on what you’re feeling like serving. Here’s what’s on the plate above:

  • Salami
  • Bella Vita cheese with coffee rinds
  • Asiago cheese
  • Green olives with garlic cloves stuffed in the center
  • Kamalata olives
  • Mushrooms in olive oil (I get this in a jar in the “Italian” or Pasta section of my grocery store)
  • Pepperoncini
  • Artichoke hearts in olive oil

 

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Nectarine (or Peach) Basil Mozzarella Salad-This was my favorite dish, it uses ripe peaches or nectarines which were at their peak and it tastes so fresh. Yum!

From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch cubes (or use small balls)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Cut the fruit into 6-8 wedges, and then cut the wedge in half. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

 

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Sicilian Marinated Shrimp (Gamberi Marinati all Siciliana)
From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri-This happens to be one of my favorite cookbooks that I’ve received over recent years.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c fresh orange (or lime juice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 lbs shrimp, uncooked, tails-on

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the lemon and orange (or lime) juices, the garlic, red pepper flakes and the salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the shrimp to the marinade, toss to coat, and let marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until they turn bright pink and transfer to a serving bowl.

Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini-These were a huge hit! You should make these immediately!
From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • whole red grapes (amount depends on how many crostini you are making)
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini  (Click here for directions)
  • ricotta

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Toss grapes with olive oil, fresh thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper and roast until their skins burst, 7 to 9 minutes.

Slather crostini with ricotta, top with the grapes.

 

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This time of year I am making big batches of gazpacho about every 2 weeks because we love it so much in this house. This cold soup is the perfect way to enjoy the season’s produce. Click here for my recipe for Gazpacho

 

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Polenta Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • polenta, cut into thin rounds (You can make the polenta yourself and cut it into rounds or your can buy the premade polenta that comes in a log shape at the grocery store)
  • 1 small ripe tomato, seeds removed and diced
  • fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Romano cheese, grated

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with non stick spray and working batches toast the polenta rounds, letting each side cook for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness of the polenta rounds. You want the polenta to look slightly browned with a few black spots on each side.

Place the toasted polenta on a baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl combine the tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon distribute the mixture onto the polenta and top each one with a small amount of Romano cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (time depends on your oven, you want the cheese to melt, but don’t let it burn).

 

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Well I wasn’t going to have Italian food without my sauce and meatballs joining the party. I heated up some mini meatballs and sauce form the freezer and topped them with grated mozzarella.

Click here for my recipe for homemade meatballs

Click here for my recipe for homemade pasta sauce

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Lemons filled with Cream (Limoni Ripieni)-This was by far my favorite item of the night. I absolutely loved them and I cannot wait to try this recipe with oranges and limes. If you are looking for the perfect hot-weather dessert, search no further!
From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium-sized lemons
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Directions:

Wash and dry the lemons. Cut off enough of one end of each lemon so that it will stand upright. Cut a “cap” off the other end of each lemon. Using a paring knife and a spoon remove all the pulp from each lemon. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the pulp, removing any seeds or pith, and squeeze the remaining pulp to get 1/4 c of juice. Set the lemons upright in a dish or pan that can fit into the freezer.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Once the cream is whipped, stir in the lemon juice and pulp (Note: Don’t add the lemon juice while you are whipping the cream or the cream will curdle.)

Immediately spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the lemons. Set them in the freezer to freeze for about 30 minutes. Remove the lemons from the freezer 30 minutes before serving the top with their caps.

Buon appetito!


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Sicilian Marinated Shrimp (Gamberi Marinati all Siciliana)

From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c fresh orange (or lime juice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 lbs shrimp, uncooked, tails-on

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the lemon and orange (or lime) juices, the garlic, red pepper flakes and the salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the shrimp to the marinade, toss to coat, and let marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until they turn bright pink and transfer to a serving bowl.

 

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Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini

from Real Simple Magazine
Ingredients:

  • whole red grapes (amount depends on how many crostini you are making)r
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini
  • ricotta

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° degrees. Toss grapes with olive oil, fresh thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper and roast until their skins burst, 7 to 9 minutes. Spread ricotta on crostini and  top with the grapes. Serve immediately.

 

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Polenta Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • polenta, cut into thin rounds (You can make the polenta yourself and cut it into rounds or your can buy the pre-made polenta that comes in a log shape at the grocery store)
  • 1 small ripe tomato, seeds removed and diced
  • fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Romano cheese, grated

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with non stick spray and working batches toast the polenta rounds, letting each side cook for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness of the polenta rounds. You want the polenta to look slightly browned with a few black spots on each side.

Place the toasted polenta on a baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl combine the tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon distribute the mixture onto the polenta and top each one with a small amount of Romano cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (time depends on your oven, you want the cheese to melt, but don’t let it burn).

 

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Lemons Filled with Cream (Limoni Ripieni)

From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium-sized lemons
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Directions:

Wash and dry the lemons. Cut off enough of one end of each lemon so that it will stand upright. Cut a “cap” off the other end of each lemon. Using a paring knife and a spoon remove all the pulp from each lemon. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the pulp, removing any seeds or pith, and squeeze the remaining pulp to get 1/4 c of juice. Set the lemons upright in a dish or pan that can fit into the freezer.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Once the cream is whipped, stir in the lemon juice and pulp (Note: Don’t add the lemon juice while you are whipping the cream or the cream will curdle.)

Immediately spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the lemons. Set them in the freezer to freeze for about 30 minutes. Remove the lemons from the freezer 30 minutes before serving the top with their caps.

 

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Nectarine Basil Mozzarella Salad

From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch cubes (or use small balls)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Cut the fruit into 6-8 wedges, and then cut the wedge in half. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

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Today’s recipe is for Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken. In the past I’ve been weary of cooking chicken breasts, often times they take forever in the oven and I’m worried about drying out the chicken. But recently I was inspired by this chicken recipe, and I thought, why not just blast them on high heat? So, I gave it a try and presto, I got moist chicken breasts that took about a half hour in the oven.

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That being said I nee you to bear in mind, when you make this in your own kitchen that the cooking times and the amount of filling you will need is going to vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Mine happenend to be pretty big, so if you have some that are on the smaller side they will most definately take less time to bake.

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One more thing, this recipe is great for making ahead of time. Stuffing the chicken and letting it set, enhances the flavor the longer the filling has a chance to sit and let the flavors meld together. I even find that the leftovers taste even better than when I cook them for the first time.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients for Stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sided, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesean, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Ingredients for crumb coating

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

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Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblence of a pocket to put the filling in.

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Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

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If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

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Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.

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Buon Appetito!

Can’t get enough of homemade Italian food? Check out my articles on homemade pasta sauce and homemade meatballs.

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • 1  tomato, medium sized, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 c grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, or a blend of the 3)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

For the crumb coating:

  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c grated cheese
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs, unseasoned
  • 3 chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.Assemble all of your ingredients for the filling into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and set aside. Butterfly the chicken breasts. I rarely do a nice job on this, so don’t worry if you butcher it a bit, they will still be tasty. Just make sure there is some semblance of a pocket to put the filling in.

Combine the ingredients for the crumb coating (except chicken) on a plate. Take the butterflied chicken breasts and coat the outside in the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the chicken breasts on the prepared cooking pan and spoon 1/3 of the tomato basil mixture into the pocket of the chicken. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts.

If I have any left over breadcrumb mixture, I sprinkle it on top of the chicken and pat some more into the sides of the breasts.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on the side of your chicken breasts). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating, this is important, because this helps the chicken breasts retain their moisture.