Last minute, scrounged up dinner for six

We are on the east coast for a month visiting my family and, well, because there are six or seven adults and four kids running around (and as many different schedules), dinnertime has been hectic. When we do cook at home, there is a lot of grilling and a bit of each team taking a dish.

Last night we were supposed to be having dinner at the snack bar at the beach while the kids competed in beach games. “Supposed to” be the operative words. They snack bar ran out of food.  At 6pm.  And as we are eating out tonight and the next night, we didn’t have a lot of food in the house. I beat the rest of the family home, got the kids fed and then scrounged around until I found some dinner for us to eat. Normally I wouldn’t even post something like this, but my sister ate it…and liked it. And she usually doesn’t really like food…she eats because she has to. I know, I know. Isn’t that just bizarre? Not loving food?! ANYWAY. I told her I would give her the recipe. It wasn’t really much. But everyone seemed to enjoy it so here ya go!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large breast of chicken (boneless/skinless)
  • 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s 10 minute Farro
  • 12 oz chicken broth
  • 12 oz water
  • 3 zucchinis
  • 2 precooked beets
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • herbs du provence
  • salt/pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • two teaspoons balsamic
  • cherry tomatoes
  • grated peccorino cheese
  • a head of romaine, cleaned and spun, for the plating

 

In a large pot I put the broth and the water and brought to a boil. Meanwhile I chopped the chicken into one inch pieces, trying to keep the size consistent. I also chopped the onion finely. Once the water/broth was boiling, I added the farro and cooked it in the still boiling broth/water for 10ish minutes, until chewy. In a skillet, I heated the oil, added 1/4 of the onion into the pan when it was shimmering, let that cook for a minute, pushed the onions to the outer ring of the pan and then added the chicken to the pan. I added salt and pepper and the herbs du provence as then hit the pan, let them cook until the outer edge of the chicken was white and then flipped each piece. I let it cook for a minute or two more and then mixed all of the onions and chicken together. Once cooked through, I poured the chicken into a bowl to save for later.  While the chicken cooked, I chopped the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces and, after trimming the ends off of the asparagus, chopped that into 3/4 inch pieces. 

I added a bit more oil to the pan and, as it was warming back up, drained the farro and left it on the over, no heat. Once the oil was shimmering, I added the rest of the onion and cooked until translucent (medium heat). Then I pushed the onions to the outside. I poured all of the zucchini and asparagus into the pan and let it cook for a few minutes. While that cooked, I cut the beets into small pieces (I usually do this INSIDE a bowl so that everything doesn’t turn red) and the cherry tomatoes in half. 

Once the veggies in the pan started to soften, I added the white wine and let it cook down, having stirred the veggies so they evenly were covered. I put in a bit of salt and pepper (more pepper than salt…a few turns of a salt mill, about ten of the pepper mill) and then the balsamic. 

Once the asparagus was cooked through and the zucchini softened, I dumped in the rest of the veggies (the beets and tomatoes) and then re-added the chicken and the farro, letting the farro soak up all of the delicious juices at the bottom of the plate. It was honestly beautiful. Really colorful and smelled amazing. 

I added two leaves of romaine to each bowl and then spooned in about a cup and a half of the mixture. My dad then took the honors of adding a bit of peccorino to each bowl. I wish I had taken a picture. But everyone was starving at that point (and also trying to put babies to bed) so no picture this time. 

This would be a great one-dish meal for a dinner party, too. 

Zucchini Ribbon Pasta with Lamb Sausage and Spinach

 

With our entire crew ill more often than not the past two weeks, we were all craving a bit of comfort food. The no-starch goal greatly encumbers this desire. We ended up with zucchini ribbon pasta with spinach, herbs, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and lamb sausage from the farmer’s market.Image

 

Ingredients:

  • Four green zucchinis
  • Pasta sauce of your choosing
  • Fresh spinach
  • Basil, oregano, parsley or herbs of your choosing
  • Lamb sausage
  • Mozzarella
  • Tomatoes
  • Yellow Onion

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The first thing you will need to do is “ribbon” the zucchini. I used my mandolin but you can also use a veggie peeler. Cut the ends off and run it through trying to make the longest thinnest strips.

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After chopping the onion and softening half of the pile in a bit of olive oil, I tossed in the zucchini, a bit more olive oil, some salt and pepper. I let it cook down, turning often and gently.

While that is cooking, I dismantle the lamb sausage, taking the lamb out of the casing and chopping the meat into smaller pieces. Back at the oven, in a separate saute pan, I heat the rest of the onion in a bit of olive oil and, once soft, add the lamb sausage.  As it is browning and the zucchini softens, I chop the tomatoes, herbs and ready the spinach. Also chop the mozzarella into smaller bits…but set those aside.

This last bit will go quickly so it is good to have all of the ingredients ready and at hand. 

Separating the remaining ingredients between the two saute pans, add the spinach, tomatoes and herbs and pour as much pasta sauce on the zucchini as desired. It soaks up quite a bit, so be prepared with more than you think. 

Add the mozzarella chunks to the meat pan. Having more room in the pan helps the cheese melt.

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Almost there! When the spinach has wilted, mix the two sets of ingredients together. Voila! Delicious sort of pasta.

I served it with freshly grated parm.

 

Sunshine Chicken Kebab with Squash Ribbon Salad

Last night I made one of Hubs’ favorite Persian inspired dishes. It is a take off of Mitra’s Sunshine Kitchen and similar to Joojeh Kebab. I had originally planned to pair it with a green salad. But today was one of those days I just wasn’t in the mood for lettuce…so I switched it out for squash which was handy. And as I’d been making a lot of sautéed veggie and grain side dishes lately, it was time to try something new. I remembered my mother making something similar to this years ago but wasn’t sure how to do it. As is my want…I figured I would make something up to suit my tastes and what was in the fridge. AND I had purchased a bunch of yellow squash and zucchini at the farmer’s market the other day and wanted to use it before it went soft. More on the ribbon salad later.

Sunshine Chicken Kebab:

  • 1 chicken breast per person (I used 4)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 table spoon of turmeric
  • 1 pinch of saffron…brewed (more on that below)
  • a dusting of sumac for each kebab
  • salt and pepper
  • if you don’t have traditional kebab skewers, you will need two soaked wood skewers per kebab

Ribbon Salad:

  • 3 yellow squash
  • 3 zucchini
  • your favorite herbs (I mixed fresh oregano, parsley, basil and thyme) chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen or canned roasted corn kernals (or off the cob…your choice)
  • feta to taste
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 pats of butter, separated
  • olive oil

 

First thing this morning I marinated the chicken. It is usually best to do it overnight but we were out last night so this morning was the closest I could get :).  I cut my chicken into one inch chunks (discarding fat and tendons when able), put all of the cut pieces in a bowl and added salt and pepper. Next was a heaping tablespoon of turmeric. I then brewed  the saffron (the short version: add a pinch of saffron into a mortor with some salt and grind it until it is a fine powder; steep the ground saffron in a small amount of hot water and stir until it dissolves…the proper way) and spooned it over the chicken. Followed by a cup of plain yogurt, stirred it all up and then covered in plastic and put it in the fridge.

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This is also a good time to put the kebab skewers in water. Let them sit in the water all day.

Using my mandolin, after I trimmed the ends, I sliced the squash and zucchini into a heaping bowl of ribbons. For four people I used three of each. I probably could have done one more of each. I put that bowl in the fridge as well as I wasn’t going to cook until later that night.

Fast forward to 6pm and I heated up a teaspoon of olive oil and a pat of butter in a sauté pan. Once sizzling, I added the lot of the ribbons. I gave it a good turn in the fat and then a bit of salt and pepper, letting it sit over low heat.

While this began to cook down, turning from time to time, I put the chunks of chicken on the skewers. I like to double up the skewers so that it is easier to turn on the grill.  It ended up being eight kebabs so assume two kebabs per chicken breast. Once the kebabs were put together I sprinkled them with sumac to add a bit of tang to this otherwise savory marinade. (Side note: this is a good time to get the grill ready)

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Meanwhile, back at the stove, when the squash begins to get soft, add in the frozen corn (I like the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s). Cook for a minute or two, turning often but gently as the squash is beginning to be soft enough to break,  and then add the feta.

In another pan, heat up a teaspoon of olive oil and add the cut onion and cook until soft. While the onion is cooking down, cut the red pepper into strips. Add the peppers to the onions and then chop the herbs and throw them in last. Turn off both pans and go cook the chicken.

Grill the chicken, turning after the first side is beginning to get a nice char. I’m a biiiig fan of an insta-read thermometer and highly recommend never cutting into any meat. Use the insta-read in the thickest piece of meat when both side are charred. It should read 160 as the meat will still cook for a second while it sits before eating.

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To finish the salad, add all of the ingredients together and a bit more feta. And voila! Ribbon salad.

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Everyone loved it. One of the girls said it tasted like pasta…a big compliment from her. This definitely goes on our “best of the best” list.