If you are a foodie, you may have toyed with the idea of opening your own restaurant at some point in your life; I have. Himself is a Life Planner and his question to his clients who are thinking about opening a restaurant would be, “What is it about the idea of opening a restaurant that drives you?” My answer would be- making my customers happy with my delicious food, seeing the regulars come back for more, and creating this extended family through good food, that feeling of being needed to satisfy others, the feeling of being creative and noticed for it, and the feeling “it’s mine, all mine.” Anyone who has thought about opening a restaurant, would you agree? What else would you add?
Well I have romanced the idea and have come up with a resounding, “no thank you.” I have accomplished all those above thoughts and feelings about opening a restaurant by playing “pretend” restaurant by creating fun and clever menus for my guests AND I get to have my nights, weekends and holidays off. Besides, my life dream is to be a world traveler tasting everyone elses food.
Here is what I did the other night for my guests…
A BIG FAT PASTA BAR
Items on my Pasta Bar
Bowtie Pasta- al dente and tossed with olive oil to prevent sticking
Fettuccine- al dente and tossed with olive oil to prevent sticking
Alfredo Sauce- on hot plate, you can use jarred but I made my own.
Marinara Sauce- on hot plate
Rotisserie Chicken- meat picked off bones
Shrimp- raw to be boiled with pasta
Sweet Italian Sausage- Cut up and cooked through
Meatballs- homemade or purchased
Pitted Black Olives- from olive bar at grocers
Marinated Artichoke Hearts- from olive bar at grocers, drained
Peas- from freezer section
Sauteed Peppers and Onions- I did this
Cannellini Beans- drained and rinsed from a can
Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Shredded Italian Blend Cheese
Bowl of Romaine with Croutons
Italian Salad Dressing
Sliced French Baguette
Fresh Basil- for pretty centerpiece and pasta topping
How We Did It
1. I had two pots of boiling water on the stove. Although I had kept the pasta warm in the oven, I knew it would get cold quickly.
2. Each person filled a strainer with their choice of pasta, then the toppings over the pasta, and dropped their strainer in the boiling water for about 2 minutes or 3 if they chose the small raw shrimp.
3. Then they drained their pasta, plated it, and topped it with their choice of sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
Note- We did not boil the pepper and onions as they would flavor the water for the next person. We heated only the things that would not change the flavor of the water. The sauces were very hot and when added to the pepper-onion mix, it warmed quickly. If you have a large number of guests then you will need more pots of boiling water.
After Action Report
1. This was very fun to do, almost like a fondue party.
2. Be sure to cook your pasta al dente.
3. I wish I had made a smaller first portion so that I could have tried other combinations.
4. Nothing tasted boiled but nice and fresh and hot.
5. The fresh basil made a beautiful and delicious finishing touch to our pasta.
6. Next time I may add sauteed asparagus, bacon, fresh lemons, and capers to my pasta bar.
7. The prep went quickly since most things were premade or canned. About 60 minutes.
8. Our guests had an idea that this would be fun to do in the summer but as a “Make Your Own Pasta Salad Bar.” Provide cold pastas, mix-ins, and dressing choices like- Green Goddess, Ranch, Poppy Seed, or Italian.
Try this out yourself. It proved to be a fun and creative night. Great for kids.
PS- I know someone thinking about opening his own restaurant and I think he would be great at it! Maybe he would hire me to make cupcakes or wash dishes.