It had been an extremely long time since I'd seen my Traveling Pans sisters… since Thanksgiving, to be exact!
We kept planning dinners, then life would get in the way and they'd either be canceled or I wouldn't be able to make it. I promised myself that the next dinner, I'd go, no matter what. We had determined a while ago that, rather than sticking with a culture or country for our "theme", we'd instead go for something a bit more challenging. We'd work with an ingredient that was new or intimidating, creating even more truly amazing meals.
This month's theme was two-fold: the flavors of the Mediterranean combined with a sign of Spring: GREEN! Our dishes were to include one or the other or both aspects of the theme, and be extremely veggie-heavy. My mom was hosting, so as usual, her adorable cats helped her to set up.
While we waited for the other sisters to arrive, I warmed up my spanakopita. While it's something I'd made before, I used a more authentic phyllo dough, and opted for a traditional recipe over a "healthified" one.
Soon, everyone was present and accounted for, and Eo surprised us with what was called a "Screaming Greenie", a basil and licorice drink that was surprisingly refreshing and delicious, and most importantly, bright green!
My mom made two of her amazing veggie dishes: lentil salad
And her perfected version of brussels sprouts afelia:
Tina brought two things as well, one of which was a red-wine infused, fig, nut and orange-stuffed bread:
And red-wine braised veal meatballs with ground pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts.
Eo brought, in addition to her Screaming Greenies, a delicious dish of green beans topped with cayenne-candied bacon.
Emily made something called "spoon fruit", made from loads of oranges and tons of spices, which was then spread on toasted croissants, and topped with feta, toasted almonds, and thyme.
Amy, always the adventurer, made delicious garlicky octopus and baklava. They weren't served together, obviously.
We sat down to eat and as usual, the conversation flowed easily, chatting about everything from my sister's recent trip to the James Beard house in NYC to cook a dinner with her executive chef to the relative attractiveness of John Hamm.
Leigh surprised us with some beautiful salted-caramel-filled chocolates…
Since so much of the meal was vegetables, I left feeling satisfied, both physically and emotionally… I just LOVE these women that I'm lucky enough to hang out with every 6 weeks or so! I can't wait until our next get-together!