Back in February, I hosted a Pretty Simple Dinner Party to celebrate the release of the cookbook A Couple Cooks - Pretty Simple Cooking: 100 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to Make You Fall in Love with Real Food by Sonja and Alex Overhiser.* When Sonja emailed that they were hosting a second event, I was in immediately. I emailed some friends and told them to come hungry.
When I pulled the cookbook off the shelf, I started marking recipes I wanted to make for the #PrettySimpleDinnerParty v.2. Turns out that two of them I had already made - for the first dinner - including the Lemon & Pepper Green Beans and the Artichoke Lentil Stew with Salsa Verde. At least I'm consistent with my tastes, right? So, I went back in and picked different recipes to share this time around.
But I also wanted to delve more into what I love about this cookbook - besides the recipes. I love their philosophy towards food and cooking. And it can be summed up in their chosen hashtag for the events: Pretty. Simple. Cooking. They define their approach this way (pg. 6). Pretty simple cooking:
- Balances beautiful, creative recipes with accessible concepts
- Uses methods that are approachable, though not always quick
- Produces bold, inspired flavors without too many hard-to-find or expensive ingredients
- Features wholesome, seasonal, and quality ingredients
- Emphasizes creativity and playfulness over list making
- Is a lifestyle approach to everyday cooking
Also, their 10 lessons is pretty darn awesome (pg. 8). They are common-sense, but it's great to see it in a succinct list. Yes, I am a listmaker!
- Cook real food.
- Slow down.
- Love the (creative) process.
- Face your fear.
- Seek balance.
- Be mindful.
- Yes, you can.
- Gather and share.
- Respect the ingredients.
- Have fun.
So, I embraced their pretty simple approach and picked some recipes that were easy and delicious. And, once again, my guests didn't miss the meat at all. We started off with chips and salsa, a cheese board; we had mixed greens with peaches and a repeat of the Lemon & Pepper Green Beans; our main dish was their Rainbow Soba Noodle Bowls; and the evening ended with Fresh Berries with Mint and cinnamon whipped cream. What a feast!
a loose adaptation of their Peach Salsa
For this offering, I started with their Peach Salsa, but I wanted to include some garden tomatoes and fresh strawberries I had gotten from my CSA box. So, it became a summer salsa.
- 2 organic ripe peaches, pitted and diced (approximately 1 C)
- 1/2 C diced organic tomatoes (I used heirlooms from my Wombat's Garden of Edibles)
- 1/2 C diced organic strawberries
- 1 organic jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely diced
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
- handful of fresh herbs (I used organic cilantro and mint)
- juice from 1 organic lime
- freshly ground salt
Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Add a few grinds of salt. Let stand for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Eat immediately with tortilla chips.
A World-Traveler Cheese Board
You can read my post about Building the Perfect Cheese Board. But, in this case, I was focusing on countries to make a board with cheeses from around the world. I picked a harvarti from Denmark, a double cream Gouda from Holland, and a Tomme de Savoie from France. To accompany the cheeses, I offered fresh figs, marcona almonds, raw almonds, baguette slices, and their Rosemary Olives with
This time, over dinner, my friends flipped through the cookbook as we ate and chatted. And one of them wanted to try California Toast with Almond Butter and Berries the next morning for breakfast. So, I let her take my copy home. And, I've heard, that another guest went right home and ordered a copy for herself and one for her sister. I love it!
This is definitely one of those books that inspires people into the kitchen and isn't just a beautiful book for the table that never gets used. It is beautiful. Don't get me wrong. But it's beautiful and useful. That make a winner in my mind!
*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.
Here's what everyone else read in August 2018: here.