Once a year I hold Book Club at my house and make it my job to not only discuss the book in an intelligent manner, but to feed my friends well. I like to think I succeed each time. This year I made a delicious white bean, sun-dried tomato, and feta spread. This was probably the winner of the night and I wish I had doubled the recipe. Instead of serving it pre-spread on toast points, I served it in a bowl along side French bread. This is a delicious dish that can be served at all types of occasions. I also made apricot-soy glazed chicken wings. The sauce is a really nice balance of salty and sweet. The marinade would also work well with chicken breasts and salmon. My final dish was my edamame succotash. For dessert I made devils food cake cupcakes with rich and velvety cream cheese frosting (see below). I’m sure I will use these recipes again and again over the years.
White Bean, Sun-Dried Tomato, & Feta Spread
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8.5 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chop the tomatoes and reserve 2 tablespoons of oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 closes garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped (from about 10 sprigs)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 ½ lemons)
½ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped and loosely packed
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated finely
3 ½ ounces Feta cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, sliced or 10 slices white sandwich bread, each slice cut into 4 squares.
1. Preheat over to 350°F
2. In a medium size saucepan over moderately low heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and tomato oil until hot but not smoking. Add pine nuts and toast, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. (Make sure to pay close attention. Pine nuts can go from golden to burnt in the matter of seconds.)
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Continue stirring until mixture cools slightly, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir in beans, tomatoes, lemon juice, basil, Parmesan and Feta. Add salt and pepper to taste (Topping can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 6 hours. Before serving bring to room temperature.
You can serve this either with untoasted, fresh French bread, toasted French bread, or create little bites with the white sandwich bread. If using the white sandwich bread or toasted French bread:
5. Arrange bread squares on parchment-lined baking sheet and brush on both sides with remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toast, turning once, until light golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
6. Top squares with white bean topping and serve immediately. (Or you can serve the white bean, sun-dried tomato, and Feta mixtures in a bowl and arrange toast/bread alongside.)
Yields: About 3 cups or 40 hors d’ouvres
Apricot-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings
3 garlic cloves
1 (3-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup apricot preserves or jam (can also use peach preserves)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoons hot red-pepper flakes
4 pounds chicken wings, tips removed if desired (can also use drumsticks)
1. Preheat broiler
2. With motor running, drop garlic into a food processor and finely chop. Add ginger and finely chop.
3. Add preserves, soy sauce, water, and red-pepper flakes and pulse until sauce is combined.
4. Line bottom and sides of a large 4-sided sheet pan with foil and lightly oil foil.
5. Pat wings dry and put in sheet pan. Season with ¾ teaspoon salt. Pour sauce over wings and toss to coat, then spread in 1 layer.
6. Broil wings 4 to 6 inches from heat 5 minutes, then turn over and baste with sauce from pan. Continue to broil, rotating pan and turning and basting 3 more times, until chicken is cooked through and browned in spots, 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes 4-6 servings