|Bacon Balsamic Summer Sliders - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
I was very lucky to get the opportunity to play around with local catering company, Gourmondo's, line of specialty dressings. They're made fresh, in small batches, and along with flavoring their own catered foods, you can find their dressings in several stores in and around the Northwest. I'm happily familiar with their company, as I've had their food at events, and they do beautifully delicious work -- their tagline is The Art of Food, which is 100% true, as they create really elegant menus with a nod towards fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. And they don't just do big, fancy parties, they have a great box lunch menu, if you're ever doing an all-day work event and you need to bring in food -- don't punish your co-workers with lackluster rubber-chicken club sandwiches; that all-day meeting could turn zombie apocalypse right-quick. Get these people a fresh panini, for the love of God.
|Bottled goodness and easy summer dishes, courtesy of Gourmondo - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Easy appetizers - balsamic/pepper melon wrapped in prosciutto - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
The proscuitto-wrapped melon slice recipe is so easy, it should be an UnRecipe (serves 4-6 as an appetizer): 1 ripe canteloupe (rind/seeds removed, sliced into 8-10 wedges), 8-10 proscuitto slices, 1 tablespoon of Gourmondo's Classic Balsamic Dressing, a drizzle or two of olive oil to loosen the dressing, fresh cracked pepper to taste.
|Summery-fresh zucchini in a raw salad - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Herbed zucchini salad recipe so easy, it should be an UnRecipe (serves 4-6 as a side): 4 to 5 zucchini, tops/ends removed and sliced thinly; 2 tablespoons of Gourmondo's Tuscan Herb Dressing; fresh cracked pepper to taste; shavings of Parmesan to finish. Note: I used a mandolin to make the lengthwise slices because they looked pretty, but you could slice them thinly into coins -- your fingers will be thankful for it.
|The most refreshing salad you'll ever have - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
One of my favorite things was to sop-up tasty dressings or sauces with bread as you're finishing a meal, so panzanella would of course be a favorite salad. Use a good, crusty baguette, maybe toast it a little or let it slightly stale overnight, because you want it a little moisture-starved before it gets tossed in Gourmondo's Classic Balsamic dressing, along with shreds of fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and whole grape tomatoes. The classic panzanella is stale bread with tomatoes and other vegetables, but this version is tossed with fresh arugula, which adds a nice peppery bitterness to balance out the richness of the cheese and the dressing-soaked bread. It's not a waify mixed green salad, this is quite hearty and could be a meal all its own. And it's another crazy-easy prep dish, as you can put together the whole salad a few hours before serving (minus the dressing), keep it in the refrigerator and toss with the Classic Balsamic mixed with some plain olive oil before setting out. It's good freshly-tossed and as the bread continues to soak up the dressing, it makes the salad even more rich. Another nice thing about arugula is how sturdy a green it is -- it will hold its fresh crispness for a couple of hours, even dressed in this salad.
Panzanella UnRecipe Salad (Serves 4-6 as a side): 3 cups' worth of stale or lightly toasted baguette torn into small bite-sized pieces, 1 pint of whole grape tomatoes, 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (about 8 oz) torn up into small pieces, 1/4 cup of fresh basil torn or cut into ribbons, 3 cups of fresh arugula, 3 tablespoons of Gourmondo's Classic Balsamic dressing loosened with a few drizzles of olive oil, fresh cracked pepper. If you want to make this salad heartier/meatier, toss with cut-up chunks of dry salami or top with ribbons of prosciutto.
|Bready cheesy panzanella salad with marvelous mini-burgers! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Everyone has their own way of topping a burger, so I leave that up to you -- use your favorite cheese (or no cheese), tomatoes, veggies, whatever. The thing I recommend trying is take your 2 pounds of ground beef and pour in a tablespoon of the Bacon Balsamic dressing and gently incorporate it into the meat. Have it sit for a few hours to marinate before forming the patties and cooking. The smoky balsamic will infuse the meat with a nice depth of flavor, but not overtake the earthy beef -- just a small amount of dressing will do. You can always add more as a topping sauce to the finished burgers if you really want to bring out the bacon balsamic. For my sliders, I topped them with leftover mozzarella and arugula from the salad (waste not!) and I happened to have some fresh-made guacamole -- not a requirement, but very tasty on a burger. The flavor-infused meat is good on its own, simply cooked, placed between a lightly toasted bun; doesn't have to be any more complex than that. I like using dinner rolls for slider buns -- the soft, squishy-ness of the bread soaks up the burger's flavor very nicely and it compresses for easy eating. Depending on the group you're feeding, two sliders per person is plenty, with all the side dishes. Having a big meal of fresh salads with one indulgent dish like a mini-hamburger is ideal summer eating, when you hate to be full of heavy, too-rich foods on a hot day. You'll feel satisfied after all these different dishes, but it won't weigh you down into the dark, evil dungeon of Castle Food Coma-vania. And that's the success marker of any party... right?
Many thanks to Gourmondo for letting me have a summer dinner party with their delicious dressings, and I hope this inspires you to have your own summer party and enjoy it, too!