Thursday, May 5, 2011

Goat Cheese with Garlic and Chives and Spinach Pesto

Does anything NOT go with goat cheese
Last minute dishes stress me out. Try as I may to be cool as the healthy cucumber, I still get my apron in a knot when I need to prepare something on the fly for a large group.

Healthy boyfriend had a housewarming party and I only had an hour to shop and prepare a dish for an unknown number of people. The converstaion went something like:
Healthy Boyfriend(HB): Yeah, so people are coming over around 7:30
Me: Ok, how many people?
HB: Ummmm, yeah no idea. Some, maybe...Maybe a lot.
Me: What kinda food are people bringing?
HB: The kind you eat. I dont know, food.
After that I got off the phone because I knew I was cooking blind. Healthy boyfriend rarely cares about the details of his food, his attention for detail stops at the nutritional information.

So while often no guidelines can be exciting for creativity, I like knowing a LITTLE about the type of food I am suppose to bring. At the same time, food is about showing your love and you can't do that if you let the stress eat at you, pun INtended. Perhaps silly, but for me potlucks provide the opportunity spread some love in the world. A chance to give a best friend or a total stranger a moment of bliss.

So I let my brain kick around things that I love eating no matter what, and of course dishes that could be prepared in 20 minutes or less. I had to have time to shop and since I spend my days running around, I needed to at least have a few minutes to change out of my gross clothes.

I did not want to make something that was expensive or complicated because if no one came to the party, I would be grumpy about it. Never set yourself up for disappointment, an important lesson in cooking. Oh yeah, and life too.

 I wanted something that I could reuse, in case there was leftovers. I hate hate HATE throwing away food. Of course it happens, but it shouldn't. Food may not be as precious as air to many of us, but the vast majority of people in this world will never know a full belly, and to waste food seems cruel and ungrateful. Maybe thats dramatic, but I feel its part of the gratitude we should all feel for the food that is so readily available to many of us.

So all this pondering lead me to my two dishes. I will post them both, but I did not get a picture of the pesto, I was in a rush as I said, so totally forgot. The pesto I have already done, though this time I added arugula, because I had some on hand, and it was a real treat. The arugula added a nice peppery spice to the overall flavors of the dish.

Fresh and simple ingredients
The goat cheese could not have been easier or more delicious. Then I used whole wheat pita triangles, lightly toasted, for my dippers. I wish I got a picture of my two dishes together, because they were soooooo cute! I even wrote what they were on masking tape and placed the tape in front of the bowls so people knew what they were. These days I lean on the adventure side of eating, but for many years if I didn't know it, I didn't eat it. Its a good idea to find a neat, cute way to label your food if you are having a potluck. Now I was mocked a bit, being one of the only people that made something for the party and definitely the only one who labeled it, but I took any mocking as a compliment. I bring class where I go, jealously is bound to follow. :)

Fyi, when I list chives I mean the herb and not green onions or scallions. I used to confuse the two, but chives is a herb, scallions are a type onion. You could also use dill or basil, if you have fresh herbs, use them. I had some sesame seeds so I threw them in, get creative!

Goat Cheese with Garlic and Chives and Spinach Pesto
Looks boring, tastes DELICIOUS!!
The Goods:

Goat Cheese Dip: makes about 2 cups
2-3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 10. 5 ounce tube of goat cheese, softened
1/3 cup fresh chives, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds(optional)

Spinach Arugula Pesto(not pictured): makes 3 cups
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh Arugula
1 cup basil
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

6 whole wheat pita pockets, cut into triangles; Each pita pocket cut into 12ths

The Deal: 
1. First make your goat cheese. If your goat cheese is not softened, place it in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just enough to barely soften it. Add garlic, chives and sesame seeds and mix until combined. Place in refrigerator and let sit for as long as you have. 
2. Then make your pesto. Place pine nuts, garlic, spinach, arugula, and basil in a food processor until it forms a rough paste. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil until it forms a smooth paste. Place pesto in a bowl and stir in parmesan and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
3. At the party, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly warm your pita triangles right before serving the dips. A light toast makes a noticeable difference.
Be ready to recieve praise. Grab a pita and dip into yo dip!!

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