Entertaing with 8 & $20 with a Side of Travel Memories: Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Minty Mashed Peas

Back today to share another of my recent 8 & 20’s – Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata and Minty Mashed Peas – and just how easy this one make entertaining.

Truth be told, this one was originally intended to go up in the spring in time for all of the holidays around that time, but it was held up for a bit and didn’t go up until the end of summer. I’ve been playing catch up and am sharing it with you now, so it might be seem a little out of sync with the seasons . . . However, the nice thing about this recipe is totally viable during any season because it uses ingredients that are available at any time of year.  We're also having a little heat spell right now in the Bay, so this recipe actually seems appropriate. (This weather really isn’t weird. Summer tends to come during the fall around here.) What’s extra cool about this recipe is that you get a main dish, sauce, side, and even a salad with dressing all out of eight ingredients in total, plus salt and pepper!

I made this for an actual dinner party with a friend one night, so I can vouch for it as an excellent entertaining option in real life and thought I’d share how to put it together into a full, stress free menu.

We started out with a cheese platter. If I remember correctly, our friend Annette brought the cheeses, and Greg arranged it all on the platter once she’d arrived. 

I find people really like to contribute something and it takes a little pressure off of you.  Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself – the goal is to spend time with friends, not to be stressed out in favor of perfection. Go on and let your friends help and everyone is the happier for it! On occasions like this one where we had the wine lined up, I find appetizers and desserts are the easiest place for people to contribute. 

In this case, I had ideas in mind for dessert! Nigella Lawson has a Clementine Cake recipe that I completely adore! I originally found this recipe when I was searching for a gluten-free dessert option for another dinner party a couple of years ago. It’s also a great option for anyone wanting a low-carb dessert option since it uses almond flour. We loved it so much that I’ve been regularly making it ever since. In this case, I swapped in Meyer lemons for the clementines.

To top off the cake I also made a mixed berry sauce and Meyer lemon curd. You definitely don’t need to make 2 toppings to go on this cake.  It’s really great on its own or with just a little whipped cream or ice cream, but it was spring and I was very excited about fruit. It’s also hard to express just how much I LOVE lemon curd. I used a version in the Sous Vide at Home cookbook, but this one from Anova is similar.

The berry sauce couldn’t be easier and is also an option year-round. Here’s the non-recipe:

Super Easy Berry Sauce

  • Pour a bag of frozen berries  of your choice into a pot. (I used a mixed bag.)
  • Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar, ideally powdered.
  • If you’re feeling fancy add in some vanilla, baking spices like cinnamon, lemon juice, or a splash of flavored liqueur you think will go. 
  • Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid from berries reduces and thickens to a saucy consistency.
  • Taste and adjust sweetness and flavors to your preference.
Done! That's it!

All of these  desert components can be made in advance. Altogether YUM!

So let’s talk wine. Since this dinner was intended for use for an 8 & $20, we got Annette involved in the wine sampling and go her input. We tried three over the course of the evening.

I go into details into how each of them worked in greater detail in the article, so not going to go too deeply into it here, but we ended up with several good options. We started the evening with this Lavau Tavel Rosé 2017 with our appetizers, but then it carried over into dinner.  Tavel is a region in the Southern Rhône in France that focuses exclusively on rosé, so it’s good to know about for those of you who love the pink stuff. This wine would have been a particularly good if serving this dish for a lunch.  

Then we switched over to try a couple of reds. Annette really loved how this Castello di Monsanto Monrosso Tuscan Blend 2016 paired with dinner. 

Greg and I preferred how this Allegrini Valpolicella 2017 worked with the dish. I thought it matched the weight a bit better, and complemented the flavors in the food as well. 

Greg and I actually got to visit Villa Della Torre Allegrini when we were in Italy last fall. The property was absolutely beautiful, and I would highly recommend it as a stop if you’re ever in the Veneto region near Verona. I leave you with a few of Greg's pictures from our visit.

Note: We got hooked up with the visit via our friend Tommy, so the visit was comped as a member of the wine industry, but all opinions are my own and no other compensations was received for this post.

 The villa has these amazing fireplaces and we were clearly enamored.

I believe I ordered all of these wines on Wine.com .
Photo credit on the lamb and winery pics to Greg Hudson. 

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