Please everyone at the table with these fun toppings
Have you ever felt during a dinner party that no matter what you make, you just can’t seem to please everyone? That’s certainly happened to me.
One way to deal with this is to create a basic dish and then ask your guests to provide the fun toppings. I did this recently and it was a huge success. Below are three of my favorite toppings ideas for a base dish like cheesy risotto, pasta, farro, cous cous or just plain rice. Of course, the sky is the limit.
Fried Zucchini Ribbons This recipe makes use of a spiralizer (spiral vegetable slicer), which is my favorite new kitchen gadget. 3 zucchinis, rinsed, ends removed and placed in a Spiralizer and turned into zucchini ribbons 1 to 2 eggs, beaten, placed in a shallow bowl 1 cup panko combined with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, placed in a shallow bowl Salt to taste (you may require more) 1 pinch of your favorite dry seasonings (I actually like to use a little more grated parmesan) Oil for frying Spiralize the zucchini. Dip it in the egg bath, shake it off, then dredge it through the panko mixture. Set it on a clean surface.
In a medium sauce pot add enough oil (usually 1 1/2 inch up the side of the pot) to fry the zucchini a few spirals at a time. The best temperature for the oil is 350 to 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, start at medium heat.
Sprinkle a little flour in the oil — when it sizzles, it is about the right temperature. With a slotted spoon, remove the zucchini when it is crispy (this takes about 1 to 2 minutes to fry) and set it on a paper towel lined plate. Fry the remaining zucchini. You may have to regulate the temperature. Sprinkle with salt and your favorite seasoning. Serve as a topping.
Grill Chicken Manchego 2 tablespoons thyme leaves 1 teaspoon rosemary 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest, the zest from about one large lemon 1 1/2 pounds Chicken Breast, sliced into cutlets (you might have leftovers) 100% olive oil (for grilling) 1 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or white cheddar cheese is great) In a large ziplock bag, combine the thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon zest and close the bag and shake. Add in the chicken cutlets and toss everything around until it is well coated.
When you are ready to grill the dish, wipe down the grates with 100 percent olive oil and turn on the grill to medium heat. The grill grates must be well-seasoned otherwise the meat will stick. If you can’t get it well seasoned, it’s best to brush a little olive oil on your cutlets before cooking.
Place the cutlets on the grill and cook them for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. It may take less or more time, depending on their location on the grates and the heat your grill is generating. The chicken is done when it is opaque inside. A minute before finishing, evenly divide up the shredded cheese on the chicken and close the lid so that it will melt. Slice it on the diagonal and serve as a topping.
Sautéed Onions and Peppers 1 large sweet onion, outer skin removed; halved from end to end, and then cut into thin slices trying to keep a piece of the core/ end on both ends so the slices stay together 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin spears 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin spears 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin spears In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions for about 7 minutes until they start to release their juices. I like my onions super caramelized, so I usually cook them longer. Just be careful they don’t burn.
Next add in the peppers and stir everything gently together. Cook the mixture for another 7 minutes moving everything around the pan so it does not burn. Serve as a topping either whole or roughly chopped.
Cooking at Home is a weekly column where Rebecca dishes on what she’s been making.