Dinner is running late at Ben’s house as a repairman works on an emergency maintenance issue. We’re serving food off a plastic folding table because the dining table now lives in the renovated office. And my dog just ate his entire block of super nice, fancy cheese when I wasn’t looking.
But none of this mattered, because we gathered on a Friday night to spend time together and enjoy a meal conceived and cooked by Ben. “There’s a theme,” he said. “It’s purple and Mediterranean.”
Some of the guys played a video game while some of us prepared food. We topped off the meal with dessert — a peach crisp made with leftover summer peaches from Ben’s backyard fruit tree — as we talked about life and blog stuff.
The true point of this post: Ben is a freestyle cook, and we miss his dinner get-togethers even more now that he’s traveling a lot post-Bachelor, working on Generous Coffee and other projects. So we made a dinner happen. Well, he made it happen.
The dinner party wasn’t perfect, but that’s what real get-togethers and friendships look like.
Keep reading to learn what Ben cooked up (complete with his creative recipe names) and how you can make these dishes yourself (then tag us on Instagram so we can check it out!):
“Purple Rain” roasted potatoes
- 12 miniature purple potatoes, sliced
- Half of a yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- Sriracha — “an amount that looks and tastes right to you”
- One cup plain Greek yogurt
- A handful of sunflower seeds
- A handful of basil, minced
Preheat over to 425 degrees. Combine potatoes, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper on baking pan; drizzle with olive oil and toss. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine chili powder, Sriracha, and Greek yogurt, and stir. When the potatoes are done, add sauce then sprinkle sunflower seeds and basil on top.
“Beets On a Bed” salad
- 5 beets, peeled and sliced
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vineagar
- Goat cheese, crumbled
Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and lemon to your liking. Toss the beets and kale with dressing. Top with goat cheese and almonds.
Cauliflower Curry Bake
- 1 head cauliflower
- Olive oil
- Cayenne pepper
- 4 large shallots, diced
- 4 heads of garlic (not individual cloves — full heads of garlic)
- 1 6-inch piece of fresh ginger
- 5-20 whole dried Thai chili peppers (they’re very small and usually found in the spice section)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2-3 tablespoons turmeric
- 2-3 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 2 teaspoons roasted ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons lemongrass paste (I use Gourmet Garden)
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower with olive oil in baking dish. Lightly dust with cayenne pepper. Roast cauliflower in oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile blend lemongrass paste, coriander, curry powder, turmeric, salt, Thai chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and shallots until the ingredients start to come together. Add some olive oil, and blend again. Remove cauliflower from oven, add curry paste, and bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.
Caprese Tortellini (post-appetizer appetizer)
- Fresh tortellini
- Tomatoes, diced
- Onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Basil, chopped
Pan-sear tortellini until golden brown. While boiling tortellini, blend tomatoes, salt, pepper, and onion in a food processor. Drain cooked tortellini, add to cast-iron skillet, and stir in tomato sauce. Cook for a couple minutes to combine flavors. Sprinkle with basil.
Note: All courses above serve 6-8 people.
“The Higgy Manhattan”
(Serves 1 strongly)
- 6 oz. bourbon
- 1 tablespoon cherry juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon
- 1 oz. dark vermouth
Combine first four ingredients in a shaker. Add ice. Shake and pour into glass of choice. Garnish with a cherry or two.
What’s your go-to dish for dinner parties?
By Ali Harrison