Dinner Party

A meal for friends… our first dinner party in San Diego

A dear friend had family coming into town this weekend. The desire to all spend an evening together was entirely mutual. This gave my husband and I the privilege of hosting our first dinner party in our home in San Diego. We had spent Thanksgiving with friends across town; a delightful day. But, the desire to cook and set a beautiful table and share our home was waiting to be filled. I reveled in planning a menu: warming, nurturing, fresh, healthy, not too complicated. We extended the dining room table for the first time. Borrowing a couple of extra chairs and making a quick run to the store for two wine glasses to replace the two that have already been a casualty to our hard tile floors, grocery shopping and an afternoon spent chopping, listening to music and preparing for friends to gather filled the Saturday hours of a long, luxurious weekend.

Yes, there was work to be done. There always is. But, the invitation to play in this way was so easy to give a resounding yes. And, we have leftovers rich in fiber, nutrient and flavor-full to feed us into the beginning of a busy week ahead. The wind picked up, the temperature cooled, the clouds rolled in and we gathered; adults, child, dog; and laughed, told stories, shared passions, thoughts, insights and wonderful food. Our friends brought their own contributions to the meal and the flavors of each dish combined exquisitely.

I woke this morning still full of gratitude for community, for good food, for a long weekend, and for our new home. May gratitude continue to be a practice for you as we move on from Thanksgiving to Christmas and into a New Year. May the moments of joy catch your breath, hold you in pause and rapture, and may you delight in good food and friends; some of the essential elements of a thriving life.

The menu for last night…
Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew
Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Cabbage, cilantro, and red onion slaw
Roasted root vegetables
Mango chutney

and to top it off… Coconut Bliss in 6 different flavors with berries and raw chocolate maca sauce from the local farmer’s market.

A couple of the recipes I adapted for this meal are below! Happy eating!

Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew
Adapted from Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
2 tsp chile powder
3 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
3 medium yams, peeled and diced
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
6 cups cooked black beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large bunch kale, chard or spinach chopped
1 lime, juiced

Heat an 8 quart pot over medium heat, add the oil. Then, add the onions and saute for 5-9 minutes until soft. Then, add spices, Herbamare, yams and garlic and salute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the black beans and broth: simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes or more depending on size of yam pieces. Cook until they are barely tender, but not yet cooked.

Add diced peppers and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Add greens and simmer for 5-10 minutes until they wilt into the soup.

Then, add taste and adjust salt and spices if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Adapted from Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family

I don’t have a food processor, so I spend time chopping, which is a process of cooking I deeply treasure. I get to smell, touch and experience my food through each step of the process.

1 bunch green onions – finely diced
1 large handful green cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp Herbamare
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 jars canned salmon (I used Kenai Red Salmon)
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 eggs

coconut oil for cooking

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form patties. Add a little of the canning fluid or more egg if the patties are not holding together well.

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet. Brown burgers on both sides.
Serve warm.

These were incredible with a little Trinidad spice blend made by our friends. So, feel free to play with spice or flavor to suit your needs and desires!