This is by far one of my favorite blog posts because I had so much fun creating the content with two dear friends! You might remember a month ago when I visited Goop in Highland Park Village because they sell Rao's there (and tonsss of other cute things!). Well, Rao's sent me a few jars of sauce to play with, and I was SO excited!! Y'all know I do all of my grocery shopping at Central Market, and I first found Rao's there YEARS ago when I was going through my Paleo phase and looking for a pasta sauce without sugar in it...harder to find than you think! Rao's only contains: Italian whole peeled tomatoes, olive oil, onions, salt, garlic, basil, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and dried oregano. Boom. I was hooked.
SO. When Rao's reached out and offered to send me some sauce, I KNEW that I needed to have a dinner party. Duh. Have you met me? BUT here's the problem: an actual dinner party and a blogger photoshoot dinner party are two very different things, so I decided to do both! I grabbed my friend Marcy from @BriarHomesCo and my girl Kaylynn (Kaylynn Krieg Photography), and we decided to make it a photoshoot party! Marcy is a talented interior decorator and hostess and offered her home for our shoot- it's gorgeousss, so I said yes! Kaylynn was our photographer (all of these amazing photos!) and official taste tester, and we couldn't have done it without her! So, in my head, I was planning just to get in, get out, cook and take photos, then be done. But in reality, this shoot turned into a sweet lunch with two friends that I couldn't have enjoyed more! :)
I brought all of my groceries over to Marcy's house and we got started on our Italian feast! Of course, I bought multiple types of pasta, because that's how I roll. We chose two of them (why not?), started boiling our water, and made our appetizer (to snack on, naturally) while we waited.
What is more Italian than a caprese salad skewer? Actually, what is EASIER that a caprese salad skewer? Nothing...and that's why we made them! I grabbed some mozzarella "pearls" from Central Market, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and the WRONG kind of balsamic vinegar/oil/whatever. haha I'm including the photo on the right to show you how runny it was- apparently I was supposed to buy something different, but you know what? It was still delicious, and I didn't care one bit. :) Fresh mozzarella is life!
People always ask me if I like to cook and my answer is always "YES!" but maybe I should clarify and tell them that I like to assemble food and host dinner parties, and that I did not actually make these meatballs. I COOKED them, so I think that definitely counts, but Central Market always saves me with that premarinated chicken and salmon, and these premade meatballs! I did do some research into making my own meatballs, and that was a hard pass- nope. Would have taken at least an hour and I'm out on that. ;) I won't tell if you won't. All you have to do is add some olive oil to a skillet, brown the meatballs, then add your Rao's sauce and let it simmerrr! Confession: between the three of us, we still had to google how to cook meatballs, so there's that. But can I just say- meatballs are WAY more fun than meat sauce. WAY more fun.
I don't even know what else to tell you! It was so easy. Boiled water, cooked pasta, cooked meatballs, added sauce. Threw the pasta into a bowl and topped with Rao's sauce and a meatball (and a basil leaf for garnish!). So now you know my secret to a simple dinner party that won't take you hours to prepare, and your friends will never know. Also, it's worth mentioning that pasta is CHEAP, just in case you aren't aware...so don't worry- you can host a dinner party on a budget. AND if a friend offers to bring something to dinner, you can ask them to bring wine, dessert, a loaf of bread, or something extra! People love to contribute to the meal! :) Pro tip: always keep your favorite pasta and a jar of Rao's in the pantry, so you're ready to host a dinner party at a moment't notice! All you need to pick up at the store is: protein- I grabbed premade meatballs and maybe a salad.
I always buy the "Spinach Tagliatelle" pasta from Central Market because it's green...so it's pretty, and it feels healthier. ;) We had so much fun creating this post together, but the real fun was after the photos were all taken, and the three of us got to sit down as friends and enjoy a meal together. We caught up on boy drama, kids, work life, and we all asked for seconds. ;) Never underestimate the power of sharing a meal with someone; the food can be amazing, but the people around the table are what make it memorable.