Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4 | Dinner, Well Dressed

My pantry is really not that exciting.

It's pretty basic and pretty boring.  And to be honest, even though I've mentioned keeping it simple and using what's already on hand, my pantry doesn't inspire me all that much.

In fact, it's kind of as exciting as a good pair of black pants.  If those black pants were well cut, lined, and tailored.

Stick with me.

See, I think that making a meal...even coming up with the idea for a meal...is very much like putting together an outfit.  {Warning: this analogy comes straight from What Not To Wear and Stacy and Clinton's style equation.}

See, when you're putting together an outfit, not everything you put on can be the star of the show.  If you have flashy pants with a flashy top and flashy earrings and bracelets and shoes, then everything you have on will most likely be fighting against everything else.  It won't be balanced.  And it definitely won't be simple.

Good food doesn't have to be complicated.  You can go too far and have too many ingredients and flavors and textures going on {Gordon Ramsay calls this being "pretentious"}.  When I'm deciding what to make, I usually start with something basic.  This is something that I like, but don't nessecarily love, which I can build around.  My basic = a boring classic pair of black pants...or in tonight's case, spinach.

Next up, you need something you love to add some color to that outfit.  Something fresh and flavorful and usually from my fridge...

Tonight I chose arugula.  I love, love, love arugula.  If arugula were part of an outfit she would be a gorgeous blouse from Anthro that I splurged on {only in my dreams}.  She's the real star of the outfit meal; the main flavor you pick up on in every bite and is prettier to look at than basic spinach.  {Sorry spinach!}

Roma tomatoes.  They are like a gorgeous pair of camel colored boots.  They aren't matchy-matchy, but they go.  They add another layer of color, texture, and flavor to the dish...which is shaping up to be a salad.  Who knew salad could be so lovely?

Homemade croutons, swiss cheese shavings, and a Caesar dressing are the accessories.  More texture, more flavor, but no one competes or overshadows anyone else.  They're all friends in this bowl.  And they all agree that arugula is the leading lady tonight.

Simple, fresh, flavorful salad.  Done.

So to recap, to have a well dressed dinner you need something basic, something that's the real focal point, a great pair of shoes, and some fabulous accessories {but don't overdo it}.  Did I get that all in there right?  

Hopefully you get the idea. 

And tonight, this well dressed salad got a hot date.

Because my child has all 4 of his front top teeth coming in all at once.  And fussy hour is way longer than an hour now.

Caesar Dressing {adapted from Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook, Bridal Edition}

1 clove garlic, minced 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1/3 Tbsp dijon-style mustard
A Splash of Worcestershire sauce

Add all ingredients to bowl.  Wisk until well blended.  Pour over salad and toss to coat.  Add extra olive oil if you like.


1 piece of stale bread {or lightly toasted fresh bread}
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper {to taste}
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp shredded parmesan

Chop or tear bread into the desired size of croutons.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and toss to coat.  Lay out in single layer on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden in a 400 degree oven.

Stay tuned for my take on what basic ingredients are good to keep stocked in that pantry of yours.  But what about you?  What do you draw on for inspiration in the kitchen?  

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I laughed out loud - you're so cute with your glass of wine. A perfect date, indeed. I love your analogy with the style equation! What do I draw on for inspiration? Sometimes it's as lame as what will go bad first. Other times, I crave certain foods or aromas. Most often, though, I just remind myself that I probably won't feel as satisfied with junk food or ordering in as I would if I cooked... so I cook!