Our family birthday celebration was a multi-day affair with the culmination being dinner for all of the adults at Rich Table. In the meantime we had other meals together, and our other daughter, Carol, had volunteered to cook for children and adults on the night before the party.
Talk about bravery! Have you ever tried to cook for seven adults and five kids, all of whom have their own food hang-ups – “The sausage touched my scrambled egg, and I can taste the sausage!” “I don’t like pasta.” “The only thing I like is pasta.”
In spite of similar premonitions, Carol took on the challenge and prepared a wonderful meal that everyone enjoyed. There was nothing left.
Shortly before dinner time, Carol went shopping at the local farmers market and a grocery store. She brought home some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, home-made mozzarella in little balls, raw shrimp, and fresh mushrooms.
The first course was a sort of caprese salad made from the variously sized tomatoes, mozzarella balls, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
For the main meal, Carol cleaned and shelled the shrimp with a little help, cleaned and sliced the mushrooms, and began to cook. I forgot to mention she melted a half pound of butter. Then she guessed at the amount of couscous, erring on the high side since both pasta-lovers and pasta-haters averred to liking couscous. She served this with a side dish of broccoli roasted in butter, lemon, and garlic.
That’s what I call success.
Heirloom tomato caprese salad
- 2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, various sizes
- 2 packages (12 ounces each) marinate small mozzarella balls
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Leave cherry tomatoes whole.
- Combine the prepared tomatoes and mozzarella balls
- Chop the basil leaves coarsely and add to the mixture
- Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve
Shrimp and mushrooms with couscous
- 2 pounds crimini or white button mushrooms
- 3 pounds unshelled raw shrimp
- ½ pound butter
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 branches fresh rosemary
- 2 lemons, juiced
- salt and pepper
- 2 packages couscous
- Clean and slice the mushrooms. Set aside.
- Peel and clean the shrimp. Set aside.
- In an oven pre-heated to 400°, melt the butter in a large casserole.
- Add the minced garlic and rosemary.
- Add the mushrooms to the melted butter. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimp to the mushrooms and bake, continuing to stir occasionally until the shrimp are pink and have lost their translucency, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary, stir in the fresh lemon juice, and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
- In the meantime, prepare the couscous according to directions on the box.
- Serve as a generous helping of couscous topped with the shrimp and mushroom mixture.
- Serves 12