The women in my book club are so much fun to cook for.
We usually have everyone bring a little something to our get-togethers so the hostess doesn’t have to carry the entire load. (Last year I told you about the totally delicious lettuce wraps I tried for them here.)
But when it was my turn to host last week, I thought I would give everyone a break and make a light dinner instead.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make, so I thumbed through my file of recipes I want to try, and came across this one.
After all of the holiday food riches, I thought this clean and crisp salad looked really good.
Then I found a recipe on Epicurious for simple ricotta and leek tarts that I thought would be delicious (as a replacement for the Valdeon toasts called for with the salad since not everyone loves blue cheese).
I also served a few little antipasto-style bites (olives, marinated mushrooms and tiny bits of rosemary-asiago cheese) and these yummy little spicy fried chickpeas.
I’ve included the links to the original recipes under the pictures above, but I’m also including my own versions with my little changes below.
A really good blogger would’ve thought to take a few pictures, but I was having too much fun drinking wine with my favorite book club friends. You’ll just have to take my word for how good these three recipes are!
Celery, Fennel and Radish Salad
- 1 head celery, tough outer stalks removed, well rinsed, and sliced
- 2 heads of fennel, stalks and fronds removed, and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch green onions, root end removed and sliced on the bias
- 1/3 lb. sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed and sliced on the bias
- 1 large bunch red radishes, well washed, tops removed, and sliced thinly
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and toss with vegetables.
Simple Leek and Ricotta Tarts (adapted from Donna Hay’s Instant Entertaining)
- 1 lb. fresh ricotta (or make your own like I told you about here)
- 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 package frozen puff pastry
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, lightly minced
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the ricotta, eggs and parmesan cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8 to 1/4″ thick. Cut into approximately 6″ squares and place on two baking trays lined with parchment paper. Spread ricotta mixture over the pastry squares leaving a 1/2″ border. Sprinkle the sliced leeks on top of the ricotta and brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the leek and pastry are golden brown.
Spicy Fried Chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and laid to dry on paper towels (about 30 minutes)
Combine paprika and cayenne in a medium bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, add chickpeas to skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, 15–20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chickpeas to paper towels to drain briefly. Toss chickpeas in spice mixture well to coat.