This is the last post in the Valentine's Day Dinner series. I will lay out the details of the first two courses. For one of the appetizers I made Marinated Olives with Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary. The recipe can be found here at EatingWell.com. This can be made 1 to 2 days in advance and is a very healthy nosh. Just hit your local olive bar at the grocery store, throw together your favorite olive mix, bring home and toss with a few ingredients, so easy! To compliment the saltiness of the marinated olives I put together a spread of Rosemary Cheese with Fig Preserves. I found this recipe on myrecipes.com last year and made it as specified. This year a made a slight change. I wanted to try another cheese other than the cream cheese. I found a nice, soft farmer cheese, low in calories, fat and cholesterol, with a short list of ingredients. The resulting spread was very nice, but a bit softer than it was with the cream cheese. This recipe halves nicely, which is what I did since there are just the two of us. Another bonus, this can also be made in advance. So, here are the recipes for the appetizers.
Marinated Olives with Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary
makes 4 cups
4 cups mixed olives of your choice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
6 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon, cut into thin slivers
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine olives, thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oil and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days, stirring several times. (I just packed it back into the deli container it came in.) Serve with pita or other flatbread or French or Italian bread.
Process first 5 ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Spoon cheese mixture into a mold which has been lightly greased and then lined with plastic wrap. I like to use ramekins for this. Cover and chill at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Invert chilled cheese mixture onto a serving dish; discard wrap (duh!). Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Serve with crackers of your choice. I like the sesame crackers, they hold up to the cheese well.
Note: This is the brand of crackers I prefer. You can find more info here. I can always find them at the natural foods store.
That finishes up the apps, now on to the next course: Herb Salad with "Heart" Beets, Goat Cheese Pistachio Marbles and Honey Vinaigrette. The beets are so cute on the plate and great for this occasion, or perhaps an anniversary. Here's how you put together the components of the salad.
First, start with your beets. Cut the tops off, leaving about an inch (save the greens, they are loaded with nutrients and are great raw in a salad or sauteed). Give them a scrub, dry them, then place them on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap up in the foil, place your packet on a baking sheet and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
When they are done, remove the baking sheet and let the packet cool completely. After the beets have cooled you can just slice off the top and rub the skin off. I like to use a paper towel, just seems to work for me. Be sure to give your hands a good washing, the beet dye will come off! Once they are roasted and peeled, you can store them in a covered container in the fridge until you are ready for them.
To make the hearts, simply slice the beets crosswise and cut the shapes with a small cookie cutter. Place them on a plate, cover and refrigerate until ready you are ready to plate them up. Save the scraps for salad another day.
Next up, the Goat Cheese Pistachio Marbles. Quite a mouthful, but oh so easy to make. First, pop a handful of roasted, unsalted, pistachios from their shells and give them a good chop. Place the chopped nuts on a small flat plate. Roll your goat cheese (I find it works best when it is chilled) into small, marbles with your hands, then roll them in the nuts until nicely coated. They can then be placed on a plate with the beets, covered and kept chilled
Okay, we have our beets roasted and cut out and our cheesy marbles ready to go. When you are ready to serve your salad simply whisk up a simple honey vinaigrette. To do this you combine a small amount of vinegar of your choice, (I used an apricot balsamic about 1 tsp) with a squirt of honey and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. When they are nicely combined drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to combine. The ratio of vinegar to oil is about 1 to 3, but taste as you go! I like the Martha method of mixing the vinaigrette into the bottom of the bowl, adding the salad greens on top and then tossing together, one less bowl to wash. For this salad I used the Earthbound Farm Organic Herb Mix, love it! Then just plate up with your beets and cheese and serve to your sweetie, lovely!
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