This is the 4th and final recipe you’ll need to create a restaurant style, 4-course Italian dinner for friends and family at home! Something about cooking a multi-course meal always sounds intimidating, but speaking from experience, it’s much easier even than cooking Thanksgiving dinner!
When I put together a menu, I always include as many things as possible that can be made or prepped ahead to make the actual dinner cooking much easier! It’s nice to feel prepared and at ease when you’re entertaining – and that’s only possible for me if I make things ahead. (Full scale cooking and conversation usually leads to several mistakes on my part, like forgetting the chocolate cake is in the oven as it turns into a crouton!)
So here’s the game plan for a dinner party serving 6:
1st course: Spinach Salad with Creamy Chia Vinaigrette – for this salad, I prep everything but the apples for the salad (I cut the apples right before serving so they don’t turn brown). Have your covered serving bowl in the fridge loaded with the spinach and toppings, the creamy chia vinaigrette made and in a separate container, then just cut up the apples and your first course is ready. This salad usually serves 4, but as part of multiple courses it will serve 6 as a starter.
2nd course: Creamy Butternut Rosemary Risotto – I like to roast the butternut squash the day before and have it ready to go in a container in the fridge. I also like to prep the last minute ingredients (like the mascarpone and fresh lemon juice) before guests arrive – that way everything is pre-measured, and you don’t have to think too much or go back to read the recipe once you have guests in the house. This risotto serves 6 as a main dish but I make the full recipe anyways even though it’s not the main course – sometimes there’s lots of leftovers and sometimes there’s not depending on how hearty your eaters are!
3rd course: Tuscan Style Steak with Garlic Butter Mushrooms – I marinate the steaks 1 day ahead and cut the lemons into wedges for grilling. You can also clean and slice the mushrooms 1 day ahead of time, and portion the rest of the mushroom ingredients. Or you can also sauté the mushrooms ahead of time, and reheat them while you cook the steak. This 3rd course is the one that requires the most attention at the last minute, but both of the recipes are super simple which makes up for the last minute cooking. For this course you’ll need to multiply the recipe by three – each rib-eye is made to serve 2 people with a good sized portion of mushrooms each. I developed the recipe that way so that you can easily multiply the recipe to suit your dinner party needs.
4th course: Chocolate Tart – Everyone I know requests this for dessert! It’s so easy to make, and can be made a couple of day ahead of time, then kept in the fridge until the day of the party. This recipe serves anywhere from 8-16 people depending on how big you make the portion sizes. As it’s coming at the end of a rather large dinner, it should easily serve 12, (which means you’ll probably have some really good leftovers)!
My favorite sea salt to use for a ‘finishing’ touch is flaked sea salt. It has an amazingly delicate texture but it’s sturdy enough not to melt immediately. I find the coarser sea salts to be too crunchy and distracting in simple dishes, and sometimes it’s just too much salt flavor for one bite. The salt flakes on the other hand enhance without being overwhelmingly salty. It’s also my favorite sea salt to use on heirloom tomatoes, (but let’s not think about how long it’s going to be until those come on the market again)! Taking a detour off topic, I’ve been pretending it’s still ‘sort of’ summer in my head but with this latest cold-snap in the negative temperatures and some snow, I’ve finally had to acknowledge that the last warmth of the season is over! It’s not all bad though, hiking through a skiff of snow with some of the last fall color has been amazing, and I LOVE comfort food season!
So… back on topic, for the best depth of flavor marinate the steak overnight in the garlic rosemary mixture – but if you’re in a hurry, marinating for 1 hour works well too.
Tuscan Style Steak always comes with a lemon wedge, but I’d never seen it grilled before we ate dinner at Mercato in Calgary. As soon as I saw the beautiful wedges of lemon coming off the grill, I knew grilled lemon was going to be happening on a regular basis in our house! It’s really a stroke of genius because it rounds off the harsh edges and creates a slightly sweeter flavor, (can’t wait for Meyer lemons to grill). Speaking of grilling, you can pan-fry your steak and finish cooking it in the oven if you’d like, but I’m all for grilling year round. In fact, last night I was grilling out on the patio at a brisk 7ºF – a little cold is worth it every time!
Another cool thing I picked up from our restaurant experience was the plating method for the steak – they served it on a wooden board with a groove cut around the edge to catch the juices as you cut into the steak! I loved the way the grilled steak looks against the grain of the wood board, and I’ll be shamelessly copying it for years to come!
- 1-14 ounce Rib-eye steak
- 1 Teaspoon olive oil
- 1 Teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ of a lemon - a wedge cut lengthwise
- a bed of greens for plating - about 1 cup spinach (or arugula*)
- Sea salt for sprinkling over the cooked steak
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Marinate the steak in the olive oil, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic overnight in the fridge, or at least for 1 hour.
- Preheat the grill to 500ºF, it's important to have a very hot grill when cooking steak. Steak cooks relatively fast, so to get the criss-crossed grill marks like the picture the grill has to be sizzling hot.
- Rub the teaspoon of sea salt evenly over the steak, and place it on the grill at a 45º angle to the grill slats. All this angle talk if only important for the grill marks, so feel free to skip ahead!
- After about 3 minutes, rotate the steak 90º to make the second set of grill marks - this turning is what makes the criss-cross pattern.
- Once you've made the rotation to the steak, place the lemon wedge on the grill. Grill each cut side of the lemon until golden brown marks appear - take the lemon wedge off whenever it's done and keep it off to the side until the steak finishes cooking.
- Cook the steak another 2-3 minutes, and then turn the steak over and repeat the rotation process on the other side, taking the steak off the grill when it's at your desired doneness. Our steak was about 1½ inches thick, and it took 10 minutes to cook it to medium rare.
- The timing will depend entirely on the thickness of your steak, whether or not it you've chosen a cut with a bone in (like a T-bone), and your desired doneness.
- When the steak is done to your liking, remove it from the grill and place it on a bed of greens. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil - serve immediately with your choice of side dish!
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