Not sure if it was laziness or inspiration, but last night when my friends were on their way over, I looked at the contents of my refrigerator and decided that we should all go shopping and plan the meal, together. Inviting friends to join you in the kitchen can be a stressful night of nerves or a rewarding bonding experience, so it is best to choose this group activity carefully and hope your friends put up with the same amount of wrinkly cucumbers and cluttered cabinets as you do.
We walked the twenty steps to my neighborhood grocery store and spent an hour trolling the aisles and designing our perfect meal: salad was a given, I was craving risotto, and we found a beautiful loaf of five-grain Italian bread that could be mistaken for a soft pillow. We got stuck deciding on the main dish: pasta? grilling? stuffed tenderloin? We ended up with a choose-your-own-adventure option and the result is the delicious dinner you see here.
I started by brushing olive oil on a few chicken breasts and placing them in the oven to start baking.
My friend started sautéing garlic until brown and then added a basket of spinach.
I pulled out the chicken in the middle of baking and poured over a marinade made with lemon juice, white wine, rosemary, and of course, more garlic before placing the dish back in the oven for another twenty minutes.
With just a few minutes left to bake, we topped the chicken with the roasted garlic/spinach mixture and sprinkled on parmesan cheese before leaving it to brown to perfection.
I set the table, lit some candles, and ta da! A beautiful dinner made with friends, laughter and love.
I think my favorite part was that we just went with flavors that sounded tasty and used many ingredients we already had around the house. No measuring or exact timing needed. A dinner party doesn’t have to be all perfect and impressive all the time. Sometimes, you just need a group trip to the store.
What will you cook with your friends today?