Easy, Elegant, and What Mom Really Wants to Eat
Mother's Day honors one of the toughest jobs on the planet: Motherhood. It's a day to celebrate, show gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for the woman you call Mom. Most moms will appreciate homemade gifts, thoughtful presents, or sometimes, just a break from doing the dishes and laundry. My daughter slept in and I got to enjoy a chocolate sprinkle donut and 2 cups of coffee in the silence of the morning. That was all the gift I needed!
This was my first Mother's Day, and first time hosting at our new house. I didn't want to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen making something complicated. Plus, it was only lunch.
My goal was to make something light, flavorful, elegant... but mostly, easy. And I did just that. I created a menu that highlighted spring flavors and tied together. Fresh fruits, spring vegetables, and bright herbs that presented nicely, as well as tasted delicious.
Mother's Day lunch was also the first time I tackled cooking sous vide. The fiancee, being a chef, is a huge fan of this method of cooking - it's easy, it's controlled, and it's wildly successful. Once limited to the pros, it's become trendy with at-home cooks and for a good reason. By vacuum sealing food in a bag, and then immersing it in a temperature-controlled water bath, the food turns out perfect every. single. time. So obviously, I had to try it. The chicken turned out perfect and it was easy to heat it up on the grill and still achieve gorgeous grill markings. Disclaimer: If you don't have a sous vide cooker, skip the steps and after marinading, cook right on the grill! It works just as well.
I had 9 people for lunch on Mother's Day - 2 vegetarians and 1 who's gluten-free (luckily, the vegetarians eat chicken). I did a little investigating and found that the gluten in rice is different than in bread and pasta, so rice was okay. This made menu planning super easy since my go-to rice dish is classic risotto. However, I kicked it up a notch for Mother's Day. Risotto can be daunting to some because it requires so much attention. The key is low and slow. Don't try to make it in a hurry - give yourself plenty of time.
Here is my simple, elegant Mother's Day menu that will make you hope there are leftovers:
Spinach Strawberry Salad with homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette
Asparagus Lemon Risotto
Grilled Greek Chicken
Recipes are below!
Spinach Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 bag baby spinach
1 pint strawberries, cored and halved
1 cup crushed pecans
3/4 cup crumbled feta
In a large salad bowl, top the spinach with strawberries, pecan, and sprinkle the feta on top. It's easy and delicious.
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt (if necessary)
In a blender, add strawberries, sugar, vinegar. Turn blender on lowest setting and slowly add olive oil. Blend until smooth. If necessary, add a pinch of salt and blend to incorporate. Store in air-tight container, refrigerated, until use.
Asparagus Lemon Risotto
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine (I used Chateau St. Michelle Dry Riesling)
5 cups vegetable stock
juice from 1 lemon
1 bundle of asparagus
3 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion
1. In a dutch oven, heat oil and butter until melted. Add in chopped yellow onion until translucent. This will take about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add arborio rice and coat with oil and butter. Gently toast rice.
3. Pour wine and lemon juice over the rice and stir gently until the wine has evaporated. The wine is used simply for aromatics.
4. Slowly begin adding vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Continuously stir to ensure rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When approximately 3 cups of stock have been added, incorporate chopped asparagus.
5. Add remaining 2 cups of stock and stir. Cook until the liquid is fully absorbed, rice is tender, and the asparagus is thoroughly cooked.
Serve and garnish with thin lemon slices and parsley.
Greek Grilled Chicken
6 lb. chicken breast, butterflied
1 tbsp oregano
juice from 1 lemon (approximately 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup EVOO
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
Parsley for garnish
1. In a bowl, whisk lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, and lemon zest
2. Place half of the chicken in a 1 gallon FoodSaver vacuum seal bag, and pour 1/2 of spice mixture over. Repeat with other half. (If you don't have a FoodSaver cryovac machine, 1 gallon zip lock bags will also work for marinading.
3. Seal the chicken and let marinade in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
4. Preheat sous vide machine to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take a long time - I was very impatient! Once it's preheated, place sealed bag inside the water bath and cover. Some of the heat will be lost, so it'll gradually heat back up to 160. Cook for 1-2 hours. (This can be done ahead of time, just place cooked chicken in the refrigerator to keep)
5. After all the chicken has been cooked, transfer onto a hot grill and heat approximately 3 minutes per side. This is to heat the chicken and give you perfect grill marks.
The chicken is ready to serve. Garnish with parsley.
The whole meal was truly very simple to make, and because it was planned way in advance, I got to enjoy my first Mother's Day. It was a day filled with coffee, good food, and lots of family.