One of the best gifts you can give a mother is time. Time to spend with her family or to pursue hobbies, and ideally — a little of both! Before having kids, cooking was a passion of mine. I used to wander the racks of Dean & Deluca and pick out specialty products to incorporate into complicated dinner presentations. Then, the kids arrived and cooking became an activity judged on my speed rather than flavor; the less fussy and messy, the better.
Every mother is unique — some crave the spa, others solo time reading or a hike in the woods. While I’ll admit I enjoy all of the above, this Mother’s Day I wanted to embrace the chance to savor time cooking with the kids. Instead of the daily chaos of trying to get food on the table each weeknight before a meltdown occurs, we took some sweet time to savor the experience and create delicious food… together.
With a gift box like this one from Dean & Deluca full of products to enhance, we set out with a few simple additional ingredients to prepare a Mediterranean feast everyone would love. We came up with easy recipes and combinations the whole family could enjoy making… and eating, too. Even the picky one. (wink!)
First we chopped sundried tomatoes and, covered with a dash of dipping oil, paired with fresh bread for an appetizer. If there’s one thing these kids love, it’s bread with dipping oil! The gourmet oil adds to the flavor and we recreated our favorite restaurant version at home.
Heirloom tomatoes scream summer, so we made caprese flatbreads by stacking fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil on flatbread crackers. Easy to make and even easier to eat one too many of these delicious snacks!
We also customized the already-delicious marinara with a sprinkle of herbs as a dipping sauce for the bread, leaving the family with a difficult decision: dip in the sauce or the oil? Most of us took turns doing both.
Never one to let a great sauce to go waste, we simmered the rest of the marinara with browned ground beef to make a meat sauce. Swirled into penne with some peas, sautéed garlic and spinach, this dish is a favorite around here. You could also add pesto to the penne instead; that’s another crowd-pleasing trick of mine.
Since it was a lazy Sunday, we had time to set the table with more than just plates and silverware. We added in some beautiful coral or other pink Mother’s Day flowers, which made the entire table pop with color and freshness. The tins of herbs were on hand to customize our dipping oil or add a sprinkle to the pasta.
Simple ingredients. Family. Happy, busy hands. Time together.
Some people may think wanting to cook on Mother’s Day is unusual, but for me it is truly a perfect way to spend the day — especially with little hands to help out. Now, please pass the bread… and that delicious dipping oil, too!