For most of the last year, a Pandemic Pod friend and I have been hosting each other back and forth for a Friday night dinner and a TV viewing ritual common to many gay men…RuPaul’s Drag Race. With the Theater industry still totally decimated from Covid and getting back to normal still many months away, I’ve been using my downtime to really go whole hog on my Friday night spreads. This week was no exception.
Inspired by an episode of Ina Garten’s TV show a few weeks ago where she prepared her classic Olive Tapenade, I started my journey. The first step was realizing that I didn’t own a proper food processor. I have the kit that goes on my KitchenAid Mixer for slicing and dicing, but it isn’t a chopper. I can’t believe in all my years of cooking that I’ve never owned one. That had to change and due to a special pandemic related promo from one of my credit cards, I was able to get this super cute KitchenAid food chopper. The best part is that it’s wireless so it makes it a breeze to use anywhere in the kitchen without the need for an outlet. I was worried a battery operated food chopper wouldn’t have the power to really be a workhorse in the kitchen, but this thing proved me absolutely wrong. It’s a dream and I’m going to be using it a lot.
I love Greek food and I was super excited to put this menu together. My main goal was to make everything from scratch and I found it easier than I originally expected to make an impressive and tasty meal. The best part is that many components can be made in advance, so you aren’t taken away from your friends while getting a dinner on the table. I made the dips, baklava and prepared the meatballs (but didn’t cook) the day before and when Friday rolled around, I prepped the salad, and made the pitas hours before my friend arrived. Getting dinner ready only took a few minutes to pan fry the meatballs, toss the salad with the dressing and pull everything else out of the fridge…and of course open a crisp bottle of white wine to enjoy!
I’ll admit that I cheated a little bit with the dolmas. The prospect of making them from scratch and having them turn out great was a little scary for me on my first try and Whole Foods carries some really great ones, so I just bought a tub of them…next time I’ll go for the homemade.
I cannot take credit for any of these recipes, so I’ll simply link to them. I made no modifications at all and everything turned out amazingly. My friend and I had a fantastic meal and we both had leftovers to take home for later. This menu would also be great for a larger group, as it’s very easy to scale up and serve family/buffet style. Opa!
- Ina Garten’s Olive Tapenade
- Creamy Tzatzki (I upped the garlic in this one because I’m a garlic monster)
- Hummus (Take their tip and simmer the canned chickpeas to make it even creamier)
- Pita Bread
- Lamb Meatballs (This link also includes a Tzatzki recipe)
- Greek Salad (Tip: Prep everything in a big bowl earlier in the day and toss with dressing right before you serve to save time)
Pair this dinner with some bottles of crisp white wine or rose with some citrus forward notes and you’re sure to deliver a fantastic meal. Enjoy!
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