help with hot weather menu completion
Having another couple over tomorrow evening for dinner. It is HOT here in ATL, and I'd like to go easy with the starches. Already planned: starter of some kind of cold creamy soup (friend does not like cucumbers and not sure I can find ripe enough avocados in one day); I am open to suggestions. Friend is bringing home grown heirloom tomatoes to make the Marcella salad with a simple garlic vinagarette and some mocha (!) sorbet for dessert. I'd like to serve grilled swordfish, or another fish, topped with Marcella's olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano sauce. So, I have two acidic dishes (salad will probably be served as a last course before dessert)and one creamy one. I need some balance, but all I can think about is pasta, which seems too heavy. Anyone have any suggestions for sides to accompany the fish? I considered sauteed room-temp spinach, or maybe green beans, but neither is really in season here now.
Polenta disks and sauteed spinach, cooled.
Here in Southern California, we have prepared polenta in the grocery store by the Quionoa Corporation in Gardena, CA, that comes plastic sealed like logs of cookie dough. Flavors vary from plain to garlic basil to sundried tomatoe and a few others. It is organic, no-fat, and roughly 1/3 the carbohydrates of pasta.
If you have to mock it up, you can chill cooked and cooled polenta in a tin can. Then push it out of the can and slice (make a day ahead for sure). Or, spread on a baking sheet for rolled cakes (the ones with the 1" sides) and slice in squares or cookie cut, whatever.
If you want to add more flavor, warm them up in a pond of butter in a pan like a hotcake. And, if you want, saute' up some fresh spinach and place the polenta cake on top of that when you serve them.
For a starch, why not a really good crusty bread?
The bread can be served with chilled butter or hummus, and it can be dipped in whatever sauces accumulate from the vegetable dishes.
One of my favorite hot weather dishes are garden tomatoes, dressed with a little olive oil, basalmic, salt & pepper(sometimes fresh basil leaves), and a slice of fresh Italian bread to sop up the juices.
I almost always serve steamed white rice or a rice pilaf with Marcella's swordfish recipe. It's simple, light and compliments the flavor of the fish and sauce very well.
I usually accompany the fish and rice with a salad of butter lettuce, sliced radish and avocado (if you can find one, but it's good without too) dressed with a light vinagrette.
Orzo. It's the perfect summer pasta. I make it all the time and everyone raves about it. It's excellent with fish/seafood. I usually make it with a sundried tomato pesto that includes lots of basil as well. I have made it with fresh tomato - peeled, seeded and quickly sauteed with garlic and basil and lots of olive oil. I always serve it at room temp. Sometimes I add bits of feta and pitted black olives - the sundried kind.
If you are already barbecuing, you can make "potato packets" and toss them on the grill to cook with the fish. You use aluminum foil, slice small red or yellow potatoes thinly, dot with butter, herbs and salt and pepper, wrap up the package and put it on the grill until the potatoes are done. It's great if you want to have a starch but don't want to heat up the stove to make pasta or rice.