Web Extra: Small Plate Dinner Recipes

Why bother with a large main course when you can make a meal out of three (or more) intriguing and flavorful small dishes? Joanne Weir reinvents dinner with these tapas-inspired recipes

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Parmesan Flan with Tomatoes and Basil

Prep time: 42 minutes
Cooking time: 32 minutes
Makes 6

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-
Reggiano, about 8 ounces
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups seeded and chopped
tomatoes (fresh or canned), drained
20 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Generously butter six 5-ounce ramekins. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk 2 to 3 minutes until golden but not brown. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender, and add the eggs and yolks. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add the cheese, salt and pepper, and process 2 minutes.

2. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Place them in a baking dish. Pour in enough boiling water to come up 1 inch along the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the tops are puffed and firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes. Heat until hot and most of the liquid is gone, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Remove the ramekins from the water bath. Run a knife around the edges to release each flan. Place one flan in the center of each plate. Spoon a dollop of the tomatoes onto the tops. Garnish with basil, and serve.

Christopher Testani

Warm Mushroom, Arugula and Bruschetta Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Serves 6

5 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 small shallot, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
1½ pounds mushrooms, cut in half, or quartered if large
6 slices coarse-textured
Tuscan bread, toasted
2 cloves garlic
6 cups arugula
6 ounce chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. In a bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, lemon zest, shallot, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper. Reserve.

2. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until golden brown and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.

3. Rub the toasted bread with garlic, and sprinkle with 1⁄8 teaspoon salt. Then, toss together the arugula and dressing in a bowl. Place one piece of bread on each plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Place the arugula on top of the bread. Top with the mushrooms. Immediately shave the Parmigiano onto the top, and serve.


Photo courtesy of Andrjuss/Shutterstock.com


Lentil Salad with Peppers, Red Onion and Mint

Prep time: 32 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6

1 cup dried French Le Puy green lentils
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
½ medium red onion, cut into
¼-inch dice
½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
6 ounces feta, crumbled
18 Kalamata olives
Mint sprigs for garnish

1. Pick over the lentils, discard any stones, then wash and place in a large saucepan. Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, to make the vinaigrette, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic and cumin. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper.

2. Toss the vinaigrette with the lentils, onion, diced bell peppers and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste, and season with additional salt, pepper and vinegar as needed. Up to this point, the salad can be prepared 6 hours ahead. To serve, toss the lentil salad with the chopped mint, and place on a platter. Garnish with the feta, olives and mint sprigs.


Photo courtesy of Constantinos/Shutterstock.com



Little Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Parmesan

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon dry oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, pureed in a blender
1 egg
¼ cup whole milk
4 slices white bread, minced in a
food processor (about 3 cups)
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground lean grass-fed beef
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper and ¼ teaspoon oregano, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 450º. Whisk together the egg and milk. Add the bread to moisten completely. Squeeze to remove some of the moisture, and place in a bowl with the pork, beef, ½ teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.
(Test the mixture for flavor by frying a small patty until cooked through.) Form the mixture into 50 to 60 ¾-inch meatballs, and place 1 inch apart on oiled rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, and simmer for 30 minutes. To serve, garnish with Parmigiano.

Photo courtesy of unknown1861/Shutterstock.com


JOANNE WEIR is a cookbook author, TV chef and leader of culinary tours (for information, go to joanneweir.com).


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First Published February 16, 2012

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