Having friends in our neighborhood makes for fun times, and we thought that the perfect kick-off to summer fun would be a progressive dinner around Oak Park.
To prep for the dinner course of the evening, I visited the Oak Park Farmers Market on Saturday morning with a vague plan of creating a veggie sub for our picnic dinner portion of the night. I wanted to see what veggies looked good, and my goal was to buy as much from the market as possible. I did have to stop a Trader Joe’s for bread, but other than that I came up with some good fixin’s!
Golden beets, baby leeks, zucchini, golden squash, baby tomatoes and multigrain bread.
I was going for a roasted veggie sandwich with a bit of a twist, so I asked my recipe developer friend, Tina, for her advice, and the next thing I knew I was pickling my beets for a zesty sandwich topping! I simply washed, peeled and chopped the beets, and then covered them in vinegar, salt, garlic and Dijon mustard. I let them sit in the fridge all afternoon.
Next I chopped my veggies, added a little olive oil, salt and garlic, and roasted them for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
While those were roasting I washed and chopped the beet greens, and I ended up adding them (with olive oil) to the tomato pan with about 5 minutes to go in the oven.
The roasted veggies filled our condo with a delicious aroma!
To prep the bread I halved & toasted it, and melted a bit of mozzarella cheese on top.
I loaded up each sub with roasted veggies, pickled beets & Trader Joe’s wasabi mayo. It was a unique but good flavor combination!
I finished making the subs, wrapped them in foil, and we headed to course # 1 at Abbi & Ben’s cute condo. Abbi has such a knack for style — both in terms of fashion and home decor, so we all loved snooping around their place and enjoying drinks and appetizers!
Ben whipped up some goat cheese & asparagus quesadillas that were springy and flavorful, as well as fresh bruschetta that had the perfect tastes of ripe tomatoes and strong garlic, and everything was chopped professionally. It’s obvious that Ben has worked in the food industry and that he’s dined in some good restaurants!
Abbi played mixologist and created a refreshing cocktail made from homemade lavender syrup, coconut sugar, lime juice and gin. It was deeelish!
After thoroughly enjoying stop # 1 we hopped on our bikes and headed back to our place.
We packed up a picnic basket and walked across the street to a park to enjoy our veggie sub. It was perfect weather for an outdoor dinner!
As the sun started to set we hopped back on our bikes, with our dog tagging along, and rode over to Mark & Tina’s. Their place was the perfect setting for course # 3. Tina is a healthy food guru and recipe developer extraordinaire, and they have a friendly dog — so we had good food and fun entertainment. 🙂
Tina made a beautiful mixed berry pie with coconut milk whipped cream. So summery!
We enjoyed dessert on their back porch while the dogs wore themselves out in the backyard.
All in all it was a delicious night with awesome friends. Moxie was so tired that she could barely keep up on our ride home.
If you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive dinner experience with friends, I highly recommend a progressive dinner. Since we split up the courses it wasn’t too much work for anyone, it was great to travel as a group from one location to the next, and it allowed each couple to host and be hosted. Here’s to many more fun summer nights!