Saturday, November 16, 2013

Magical Gluten-Free Entertaining...

Our friends Nick and Kristy came over for dinner on Friday.  Not only are guests a great excuse to whip the house into shape, it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe I've had my eye on for a while: Magical White Bean Soup.  It ended up being just the right dish.  It's easy, hearty, comforting, delicious, and beautifully met the gluten-free needs of our guests.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite books, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.  Bread & Wine is "a love letter to life around the table with recipes."  Every chapter makes you want to gather your friends together and share a good meal while soaking up some quality time.  I love every recipe from this book that I have made so far.  Shauna's husband is gluten-free, so she knows about making delicious food that satisfies a variety of dietary needs and pleases the palate.

On last night's menu:
Magical White Bean Soup with parmesan and prosciutto
Salad with almonds, sunflower seeds, and homemade vinaigrette
Chocolate-chip coconut macaroons
Lots of red wine, generously provided by our guests

I made the macaroons first.  I (mostly) followed a super easy recipe from a book whose praises I will sing forever, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

Coconut Macaroons

  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Mini chocolate chips to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix the coconut and sugar.  Add the egg whites and stir until the coconut is well coated in the egg.  Once combined, add mini chocolate chips and stir to distribute.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone baking mat, evenly space rounded spoonfuls of your cookie mixture (I use a cookie scoop).  Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden, then transfer to a cooling rack.

While the cookies were baking and cooling, I started chopping veggies for the soup!

Magical White Bean Soup

  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 pound carrots, sliced into thin coins on a diagonal
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced
  • 4 celery ribs, sliced on a diagonal
  • 6 cans white beans in liquid (cannellini or great northern beans)
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For Serving
  • Prosciutto, torn into ribbons
  • Parmesan, curled into strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, rough chopped
In a stockpot or dutch oven, soften two sliced shallots in olive oil over medium heat.
Add carrots, fennel, and celery, and allow to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add beans in their liquid and chopped rosemary.
Cover and cook for 20 minutes at a gentle boil.
Stir well, cook for an additional 20 minutes, or longer if you have time.
Off heat, mash with potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon for a rustic, chunky texture.  (If you'd like smoother texture, run it through a food processor or use an immersion blender in the pot.)

For the vinaigrette:
Mix dijon and balsamic vinegar in a jelly jar, salad dressing shaker, or bowl.  Add oil and mix again.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This is also what I used to dress our salad!

For our dinner party, I set our pretty blue stockpot right on the table so we could dish out everything at the table.  The prosciutto and parmesan cheese were set out in bowls for the picking and the vinaigrette was at the ready in a little ceramic pitcher.  Everyone topped their bowl of soup with as much parmesan and prosciutto as they wanted, added a little swirl of vinaigrette and a pinch of rosemary, and then tucked in.  We all went back for seconds.

Once we polished off the soup, we poured more wine, plated the cookies, and dug our heels in for a rowdy few rounds of Apples to Apples.  Kristy is our reigning champion, much to Nick's chagrin, which I think guarantees that I get to look forward to a repeat of a great night.

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