first things first

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Salads and Dressings, Veggies and Sides, Dinner Party, Posted on March 19, 2015 by Sandy Bergsten

Want to make your next dinner party a bit exceptional? Consider serving multiple courses. Contrary to common belief it’s easier than you think. The trick is in choosing the right dishes.

You always want your first course to complement your entrée. So let’s say you are serving beef as your main you might want to feature fish first. If serving fish as the main course then consider a vegetable based starter. What makes a first course work is offering something where all the components are prepped entirely ahead of time, meaning right before serving all you need to do is assemble. Nothing is more effortless the day of your party than soup, since it should always be made a day ahead. I also love the simple yet showy smoked trout stack. Another fav is grilled asparagus with burrata. 

I am mad for burrata. It’s a type of mozzarella cheese that has a creamy center. Served room temp it spills delight onto everything it comes in contact with. Of course it pairs perfectly with tomatoes and basil for an updated caprese salad. But I’m a bit of a tomato snob. I abhor those waxy, mealy pink facsimiles you find at the market from November to May. I’ll holdout for homegrown and vine ripe. In the meantime I opt to serve up what’s all the rage in LA. 

Grilled asparagus with burrata is simplicity at its best. With three components: asparagus, burrata cheese and a drizzle of high-end balsamic glaze.

Begin with young thin spears of asparagus (sometimes labeled as asparagus tips).

Trim the asparagus spears right to where it is tender and bright green, discard the tough and woody lower portion.

Rinse and place in a microwavable dish. Fill with half an inch of water. Cover and microwave on high for two minutes until or until almost tender. Take care not to overcook; the spears should be slightly underdone at this point. (Note you might need to cook the asparagus in batches and toss the asparagus halfway through the cooking time to ensure the spears cook evenly.)

Remove from the microwave and immediately drain the hot water, then cover the asparagus with ice and fill the dish with cold water to refresh.

When chilled through drain completely, wrap the spears in paper towel, place in a large Ziploc bag and refrigerate. (The asparagus can be cooked and refreshed earlier in the day).

Place your burrata in its container on the counter to reach room temperature. Meanwhile preheat your grill to medium-high.

Remove the paper towel from the Ziploc bag. Toss the asparagus spears in the bag with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Take care placing the spears over the hot coals so they don’t slip through the slots. Grill each side for about one minute or just until light grill marks appear.

Remove the spears with tongs and place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Tent loosely with foil and set aside at room temperature. (The asparagus can be grilled up to an hour and half ahead of time).

Right before serving preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the foil tent from baking sheet. Warm the asparagus in the oven for approximately three minutes.

Divide the warm spears onto six salad plates.

Remove the burrata cheese from its liquid and carefully cut each ball into six slices.

Place two slices on top of each bundle of asparagus, taking care that each has an equal amount of the creamy center.

Artfully drizzle the balsamic glaze over the sliced burrata and asparagus and serve immediately.

Now up for a first course? Of course!

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