Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dinner tonight? Fresh, simple and on the Deck

Life is quiet at home.  Half of my family is going to be away for a week.  A dinner out with friends is in order but I can't do that every night.  After dropping my daughter and husband off at the airport, I went to the wine store and browsed.  It is one of those mega mart wine stores that you could wonder endlessly looking for what you want.  I got several bottles of wine and some of our favorite micro brews and meandered home.  No real hurry.  Nice.

When I am up to my own devices, I am a nibbler.  Almonds, cheese slices, fresh fruit, over easy eggs and toast.  It is all easy.  Very little clean up.  Good basic food and I had more time to work on some projects, pursue some interests, read, watch a movie and catch up on "So you think you can dance" in peace (without comments and eye rolling, so shoot me - I like the show). 

But eventually you get hungry and you need something more.    Hunger happens and if you wait too long you start fantasizing about foods you probably shouldn't and the end result is not as healthy or even remotely close to what you should be eating. You KNOW what I am taking about.  Food covered in cheese or sauteed in butter or topped with whipped cream or something to do with chocolate.  Nobody's watching.  Just you and your frying pan!  That leads me to "What is for dinner tonight?" Several months ago,  I had a flatbread appetizer in a restaurant that I really enjoyed which gave me the similar idea to do a crispy flatbread topped with veggies and goat cheese.  Something simple and I only need to use one pan.

This is how I did it:

Seared some mushrooms in a little olive oil and a touch of butter, salt and pepper at the end
Carmelized an onion and added a scant tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar at the end
Goat cheese such as chevre
Arugula tossed in an equal parts citrus vinaigerette
Flat bread, whole grain

I fired up my oven (400 degrees) with a pizza stone in it which did take a least 30 minutes.  Pizza stones don't heat fast and if you leave them in your oven they slow down how fast your oven heats up.  Well, my oven anyway.  It is showing signs of age and hopefully allowing me the opportunity to get a stove with a convection oven in it! Yeah!!!

I put the flat bread on the pizza stone for 1 to 2 minutes, not for long but long enough to crisp that side and took it out.  On the crisp side I put the caramelized onion, mushrooms and a sprinkling of goat cheese on top.

 I placed the flatbread back in the oven to heat the toppings, melt the cheese slightly and crisp up the other side of the flatbread.  This only took about 4 or 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I took about a handful or more of arugula and tossed it in equal parts grapefruit flavored white balsamic vinegar (lemon juice could be substituted) and olive oil and added a touch of salt and fresh pepper.  When the flatbread was ready I placed the arugula on it.  Now that's what I am talking about!  All things delicious and part salad.  My kind of food.  I will admit it was a little messy to eat but I just broke it into pieces and ate it like loaded chips and anything that fell got the knife and fork treatment.
The clincher for this dinner was a bottle of cheap inexpensive Riesling that I had picked at the previously mentioned wine store.  I asked the clerk if he knew of a Rielsing that was good but was on the inexpensive side but still tasted like a Riesling.  A good Riesling can easily cost over $20 and I was looking for everyday priced wine.  He perked up and he eagerly said "right this way, I have just the thing for you".  I was skeptical.  I assumed he was leading me to some heap of wine they needed to get rid of.  It was a screw top but an affordable $9.99 and now I was really skeptical. He assured me I would be pleased with my purchase and since half of the displayed bottles were gone, I decided to give it a go.  I didn't really have anything to loose which is one of the nice things about inexpensive wines. 
I am not going to say it was the most amazing or awesome but it was really, really good.  I wasn't looking for all the incredible nuances a wine can offer, just a nice glass with dinner.  I definitely got what I wanted!  I will buy this again.  It is an exceptional wine at an exceptional value.

And for anyone who might be interested, here is the label.  Google it and you will see many concur with my impression of this wine.
A medium bodied, fruity, low alcohol and a clean, clear finish.  The fruit was peach with a hint of apple.  Very nice and drinkable.

That is the end of that story.  I even made one for my son who skipped the arugula.  He enjoyed it even though he is a serious carnivore and usually passes on salads.  This dish has endless possibilities such as sauteed peppers, fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic, any roasted fresh vegetable and so on.  I am sure you could come up with some great combinations and make it even better!

Bon Appetit



  1. Now I'm craving a glass of Riesling but the shop is closed!
    The flat bread looks really scrumptious!

  2. That is one good looking flat bread pizza... can't beat caramelised onion, mushroom and cheese!

  3. That flatbread looks fabulous. This is a pretty fancy spur of the moment meal!

  4. Irma - Thank you, It worked out! I am kinda on a Riesling kick! I am enjoy (probably too much) several white wines and roses this year.

    Jess - I know what you mean.

    Maris - I should have gotten out the fine china and silver!

  5. That flatbread looks so elegant and light and perfect. I am going to try it asap!

  6. eating outdoors just makes a meal extra-special!

    P.S. I LOVE your marriage advice - great tip!


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