Okay, so my husband’s sister and family are coming to visit for the first time since we got married eleven years ago. Now I know I am about to date myself but does anyone out there remember the movie, “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming”? When we received an email from Randy’s sister saying that she was coming to visit with her family I felt a bit like the citizens in the Massachusetts town in the movie, I was about to be invaded. Think of me as all the crazed townspeople wrapped up in one.
What is it about relatives visiting that can send a normally sane individual into an insane state of anxiety? I don’t know so even though my first meeting with his family was a little bumpy I was determined to make them feel welcome because that was then and this is now.
I wanted everything to be just great. The house was perfect, the guest suite was ready, I put the blue fuzzy chair in Francesca’s room, Francesca is Randy’s twelve-year-old niece now all I had to do is what I do best; cook.
So, what to cook? I chose to grill steaks and chicken. Why you say? Because it is easy and the meat could be put on just as they arrived and would cook in a short time. Now what sides to serve with the meat? I had just returned from Virginia visiting with my daughter Jennifer and her family. One of the meals she prepared was a pasta dish that was so good I immediately asked to share the recipe. At the time I had no idea that I would be using it so quickly.
The recipe was a Giada De Laurentiis called Spaghetti with Asparagus, Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto. I mean who doesn’t like pasta? All the ingredients for this dish were readily available at my local grocery store. The ingredients included spaghetti, asparagus, garlic, prosciutto ham, smoked mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Doesn’t that sound good?
This recipe takes little time to prepare as most of the recipes I use during the summer. First I flash cooked the asparagus and set aside for later. Then I prepared the pasta in the same liquid as the asparagus. Next I sautéd the garlic and then add the asparagus to the skillet and then adding the pasta tossing it all together. Last but not least adding the prosciutto, mozzarella and basil tossing to make sure all ingredients are coated. As the recipe noted it only took about ten minutes of preparation time and fifteen minutes to actually cook. How easy is that on a hot summer’s day.
I loved the mixture of textures and flavors all in one dish. The crunchiness of the asparagus, the medium texture of the aldente pasta and the smooth creaminess of the melted smoked mozzarella cheese. It was like having a symphony of flavors and textures in your mouth. The rest of the dinner consisted of grilled filet mignon, grilled chicken breast, sliced tomatoes and crusty Italian bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert. One of the nice aspects of the pasta dish is that I used it as a side dish but it would be a great main dish as well.
Randy’s niece, Francesca liked the pasta so much that she requested it again as did her mom the next day for lunch. And, they asked if I would print out a copy of the recipe, which, of course, I did. There were no leftovers by the time they left.
The family did some sightseeing on the western coast of Florida, Randy and Brian did some target shooting at the range, Francesca and I had tea at The Tea Plantation and Flower Shop after which Antoinette joined us for some shopping in the Villages. I found Francesca to be quite a poised young lady and a good conversationalist with an appreciation for good food.
As it turned out it was a very pleasant visit. The decision to make most of the meals during their visit was a good decision as it helped to forge new family memories. The conversations were light hearted with a little politics thrown in. And, what was really great is a good deal of the conversations was about the food served during their visit. I sent them back to California with four recipes in hand.