Meal in a Box Gift Ideas From Local Chefs

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

Three Palm Beach County chefs offer delectable gifts for the foodies on your list

All kinds of life plans were tossed in the air and scrubbed off the calendar this year. But not the holidays. They are still in place, which means the problem of what to give as gifts is still with us, too. We’ve got a suggestion. How about a Meal in a Box?!

We asked three local chefs to put together an entrée you can give to someone to make at home. No strange ingredients; you can find everything in area stores—no crazy techniques, just plain good cooking in your kitchen.

SALMON RISI E BISI

FROM EXECUTIVE CHEF ERNIE DEBLASI, CAFFE LUNA ROSA, DELRAY:

“Risi e bisi is a classic Italian rice dish usually made with prosciutto and fresh peas. In this dish, we removed the traditional ham element and substituted salmon filets as the protein. The balsamic glaze makes for a tangy, sweet topping for the dish.”

FOR THE BALSAMIC GLAZE:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in small sauce pot, bring to boil and reduce to 1/3 of a cup (about 15 minutes). Set aside.

FOR THE RICE & PEAS:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio or other risotto rice
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In deep skillet, sauté olive oil, shallots and minced garlic with a wooden spoon until soft. Add rice and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost dry, then add stock and cook until absorbed but not dry. Finish with peas, parsley and Parmesan, and remove from heat.

FOR THE SALMON:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Lightly salt and pepper salmon filets. In a large hot skillet, sear filets in olive oil and cook without moving until salmon is nicely browned on bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip salmon to opposite side and continue to cook 2-3 minutes longer until salmon has cooked through. Present salmon filets on a scoop of the risi e bisi with the golden brown seared side up, and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Garnish with chopped parsley.

MINI LOBSTER ROLLS

FROM EXECUTIVE CHEF JOHNNY DEMARTINI, LIONFISH, DELRAY.

“Make sure the lobster is nice and cold before mixing with everything else. You can poach lobster meat in butter for a few minutes to give it a nice rich buttery flavor. Remember to support your local businesses, bakeries, fish markets and green markets when shopping.”

INGREDIENTS:

  • Brioche hot dog buns
  • Cooked lobster meat
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemons
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt & pepper
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • White wine

For lobster filling, place oil in sauté pan on medium heat. Add minced garlic. Once minced garlic is golden brown, add celery and onions and sweat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze pan with white wine, and cook until dry. Place in a bowl and let cool. Once garlic, celery and onion mixture has cooled, add to bowl with rest of ingredients (minus lobster and mayonnaise) and let macerate for a few minutes. Add mayonnaise and whisk to combine.

Carefully fold in lobster meat, and season to taste. For buns, griddle hot dog buns in melted butter to golden brown. Load toasted buns with lobster mix. Garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!

ORGANIC CHICKEN MEATBALL WITH PASTA

FROM EXECUTIVE CHEF DANIEL RAMOS, THE BUTCHER & THE BAR, BOYNTON BEACH:

“I chose this recipe because it’s one of my favorite ways to quickly make a one-pan pasta dish at home. It’s so easy, and there are so many variations. We hand-make the meatballs and make fresh organic bone broth at The Butcher & The Bar to use for this recipe. Use this recipe as a guideline, and change it up. It will still be delicious.”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound organic chicken meatballs, cooked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups tomato whole skin on, diced
  • 1 cup organic chicken bone broth with turmeric ginger
  • 2 cups baby spinach, whole or roughly chopped
  • 1/4 stick butter, unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked just before sauce is ready, reserve half a cup pasta cooking water
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges, seeds removed

In sauté pan, add olive oil and cook garlic over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant. Add the onions and cook until soft. Then add crushed red pepper flakes and deglaze with white wine. Add tomatoes and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. After 5 minutes, when the tomatoes break down and release all their juices, you can add chicken bone broth and bring broth to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and cook mixture until reduced by one-third. Add pre-cooked meatballs, spinach, butter and parsley.

Cover pan and heat meatballs and spinach for 5 minutes. Season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Add pasta water to meatballs if sauce gets too thick. Divide hot pasta into four bowls, and evenly distribute meatballs and sauce. Squeeze fresh lemon over the top just before serving.


CAFFE LUNA ROSA, 34 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561/274-9404; caffelunarosa.com

THE BUTCHER & THE BAR, 510 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach; 561/903-7630; butcherandbar.com

LIONFISH, 307 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/865-7066; lionfishdelray.com

This story is from the November/December 2020 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.