The Rehearsal Dinner

The basic etiquette for invitations to the rehearsal dinner are:
The Bride and Groom
easy… Check!
Their respective Parents
okay… Check!
Bridesmaids and spouses (slash) dates
Check and check!
ditto for the Groomsmen
Big ol’ Check!
and all  of the out-of-town guests –
Ch * * … umm…   hmm… that’s everyone…..

The original plan was to swanky up the covered area at the beach house with tivoli lights, checkered tablecloths, and chainti bottles and turn it into an Italian restaurant for the night – Serving up trays of Chicken Parm, Eggplant Parm, Heaping bowls of Pasta, Romaine Salad,  and a kind of Spumoni Trifle…
when we were talking about 20 to 30 people.

When the numbers for the wedding started growing, it became a scramble to figure out what to do with all those people, because – I could go ahead and cook for them, but it would have been a push, with my one helper, to have pulled it off without a hiccup. (You remember what the weather did as well – so all in all, moving the dinner OFF-site and letting someone else handle it made the best choice.) And.. looking back at the week ( 9 months later) I can easily admit that it really was the best thing to do. I had my plate quite full as it was.

Tracy and Ken frequent a local raw bar in the Port St. Joe area, The Indian Pass Raw Bar, and they make it a point to head there every trip – It only made sense to approach the owners about handling the event.  They were, in a word, Fantabulous! (okay… it’s a made up word… but go with it)

Indian Pass would handle the oysters, the shrimp, crab, corn and garlicky bread – I only had to come up with something to serve the vegetarians and vegans…. Corn on the cob and garlic bread wasn’t going to seem like much of a dinner to them.

I pulled the original dinner plan out and reworked things to where I felt it would satisfy the non meat folks.
We served a Vegan and Gluten Free Eggplant Parm and a Pasta  / Zucchini Linguini Medley.  I don’t think anyone felt left out…

Vegan and GF 

Serves 2 to 4
1 Large Eggplant
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary
1 Clove – Crushed
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cloves Garlic – Minced
1 Large Can (26 oz.) Crushed Plum Tomatoes
1 Large Onion Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
3 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Aramanth or Buckwheat Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Cup Vegan Mozzeralla Shreds
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Large Fry Pan
1 Pyrex Baking Dish – oh, about 13 x 8 x 2
1 Large Sauce Pan
Paper Towels
Coarse Salt
Baking Sheet
1 Large Zipper Baggie

  • Peel and slice the eggplant into 1″  round slices
  • Place them on a toweled baking sheet and sprinkle each side with salt and thyme – allow to weep for 15 to 20 minutes
  • While they are weeping, Place the saucepan over medium heat with the olive oil.
  • Add the onions and saute until they are translucent – about 7 minutes
  • Raise the heat to high and add the tomatoes and all the other spices
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • In the zipper bag, mix together the rice flour and the aramanth, garlic powder, and pepper
  • Mix together the tapioca starch and water
  • With your fingers, rub the thyme leaves into the eggplant slices and dredge them in the starch slurry
  • Place the  eggplant slices into the zipper bag of flour and shake until well coated
  • Place the dutch oven on high heat and add the oil.
  • In small batches, remove the  slices from the bag and transfer to the oil
  • Cook for about 7 minutes each batch – using your tongs to flip them over occasionally during the process.
  • When they are golden brown, remove and drain onto paper towels
  • Preheat the over to 400
  • In the baking dish, lay the cooked eggplant in a single layer completely covering the bottom
  • Ladle 1/2 of the tomato mixture over the eggplant
  • Top the sauce with 1/2 of the Mozzarella 
  • place a second layer on top of the cheese
  • Add the rest of the sauce and spread to cover evenly
  • Add the rest of the cheese
  • Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes – or until the cheese is brown and bubbly

Zucchini Linguine /
 Rice Pasta Medley
Serves 4
1/2 Package Rice / Corn  Gluten Free Spaghetti (or Linguine)
1 Large Zucchini
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance Light
1 Clove Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Moulin (or slicer)
Large Sauce Pan
Large Zipper Bag

  • In the sauce pan, bring water and salt to a boil
  • Add the pasta and cook 9 minutes (for al dente, 11 minutes for softer pasta)
  • Drain
  • Slice the zucchini into 1/8″ or less thick slices
  • Restack the slices and cut into linguine width strips
  • Place the strips in the zipper bag, seal, and micro on high for 1 min / 30 seconds
  • Remove and set aside
  • When the pasta is done, drain and return the pot to the burner
  • Add the smart Balance, garlic, salt and pepper and heat until melted and bubbling
  • Remove from the heat and add the pasta back to the pot – stir to coat all the pasta evenly
  • Add the steamed zucchini and fold gently to combine the zucchini strips into the pasta
  • Serve Immediately