Earlier this week, I prepared a dinner for six that I’d offered for our island’s annual fundraiser auction. My original intent was for a homey 3-course dinner. As the bidding kept going, and the price topped out at $400, I felt that I could do more. My sister and I created a 6 course plated meal instead.
As I mulled over the menu, detailing it over and over again, I reminded myself that it was the end of August, and that the meal should speak to the time of year, when the evenings are cooler, the sun is set well before bedtime, and yet we are still desperate to hold on to some of the laziness that summer offers, even if just for a few more days. We’re looking forward to the arrival of fall meals, and eating them around the dining table, inside instead of out.
The meal started with a watermelon and heritage tomato amuse bouche, followed by this salad, moving to a chilled avocado bisque, followed by a plate with sautéed late summer vegetables and grilled chicken with fresh blueberry sauce, on to a plate with roasted mushrooms, shallots, and garlic with grilled strip loin and greens beans as we moved from late summer into fall, with the last dish being crème brûlée with pistachio meringues with an miniature fruit salad of early fall fruits.
Listening to the social chat of the guests, with the drawn out bits of silence as they tuck into the meal, is one of my favourite soundtracks, so easy to work away with it playing in the background.
For 6 – plated
42 medium sized peeled prawns – cooked or fresh
12 stalks fresh asparagus
1 small bulb of fennel
3 oz of washed baby greens – use arugula, field greens, baby romaine etc.
pumpkin seeds to scatter
Lemon Vinaigrette – recipe follows
If using fresh, the prawns should be grilled, using the Lemon Vinaigrette as a basting sauce.
Cut the fennel bulb into ½” slices lengthwise.
Using a mandolin, slice the fennel into strips.
Toss the shaved asparagus and fennel together in a bowl.
Drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette and toss, using tongs or your fingers separating the shavings as you toss.
Line 6 plates with the baby greens
Arrange the asparagus and fennel on top of the baby greens.
Arrange the cooked prawns on top of the asparagus and fennel.
Drizzle a spoonful of Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad.
1 lemon – zested & juiced
¼ cup of white wine vinegar
½ cup canola oil
1 t Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 packed tablespoon of parsley
Salt & pepper to season
Into the bowl of a small processor (or in a beaker if using an immersion blender), add the strained juice of the lemon, zest of the lemon, white wine vinegar, canola oil, Dijon mustard, honey, parsley (no need to chop). Process until well combined and creamy.