Grilled Asian-Inspired Chicken & Peach Salad

This weekend was that rare weekend when we had very little we needed to do.  We listened to jazz in the sculpture garden.  We ate ramen.  We drank one too many vodka sodas and danced our faces off.  We ate Italian and maybe drank too much wine.  We went to the movies – I even got to pick, since it’s my birthday week . Crushed it.

Sort of like this salad.  And the Barden Bellas.

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for the marinade

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or other chili paste
  • about 1/2 cup soy
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • a few cracks black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts

for the salad

  • arugula
  • 3-4 peaches, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 big handful cherry tomatoes
  • about 6-8 green onions, sliced
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

for the dressing

  • a few quick zests of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup soy
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few cracks of black pepper
  1. Whisk together your marinade.  Place chicken in large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it; make sure the chicken really bathes it all in.  Place in the fridge and let it rest for about 2-3 hours – any longer and the soy sauce will start to really toughen up the meat.
  2. Heat two large grill pans (jealous of those of you with REAL grills); coat with nonstick spray.  Cook the chicken 3-4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  In a separate pan, toss together the peaches & tomatoes and grill those about 3-5 minutes total; add the green onions at the end, so they don’t overcook.
  3. Add all salad ingredients together – arugula, avocado, chicken, & grilled fruit.  Whisk together a little dressing using (most of) the same ingredients as the marinade and toss the whole salad with the goat cheese.

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The Verdict:

There’s going to be a tussle tomorrow for who gets to bring the leftovers for lunch.

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Blueberry Barley and Mint Salad.

The last couple of days have been both joyful and deeply sad.  We celebrated our friends’ marriage over the weekend with a beautiful ceremony in Brooklyn, and today, I turn 31.

We also lost my husband’s grandmother this past weekend.  Mimi, as we all called her, has acted as a stand-in grandmother for me over the past decade.  She made us hand-knit slippers at Christmas and cooked the best French toast man has ever tasted.  She stocked her freezer with Peppermint Patties for the women in the family and her fridge with Yuenglings for the men.  She was an amazing mother, grandmother, and all-around person.

Last night, we made this salad, inspired by Cooking Light, as a way to nurture the soul a little bit.

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Blueberry Barley and Mint Salad

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • about 1 cup mint leaves
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • about 5 oz arugula
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes (removes some of the sting!)
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  1. Salt the water, add the apple cider vinegar, and bring to a boil.  Add barley and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop all of your vegetables and place in a large salad bowl with the arugula.
  3. Add mint, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Add hot barley to the vegetable mixture, add goat cheese, and toss thoroughly with dressing.

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The Verdict:

Even if you think this is weird – especially if you think this is weird – give this a try.  THe Husband, who doesn’t like blueberries or red onions, (& doesn’t think of salad as a “real” meal), went for seconds.  And then brought the rest for lunch.

Roasted Root Vegetable Tart

I am loving this week of the root vegetable.  Dinner is done in 20 minutes, everything is (fairly) healthy, and the earthiness of the veggies can sometimes stop me from wishing it were spring.

Sometimes.

And then here comes morning, and I actually have to blow dry my hair, so it doesn’t freeze (literally) on my walk to work, and I put on my fleece jacket underneath my long down coat, and then my hat and mittens and boots, and even root vegetables can’t save me.  Oh, spring.  You’re going to be glorious.

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Roasted Root Vegetable Tart

  • one or two cups roasted root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, fennel, onions, yum)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (don’t let it get too sticky!)
  • pinch flour, for rolling out the dough
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • salt + pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry dough so you have a larger surface area.  Put on a large baking sheet, score all the way around (about an inch from the edge), and lightly prick the dough with a fork (to let air escape while it bakes).  Place in the oven and bake about 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden.
  2. While the puff pastry bakes, gently combine the three cheeses in a small bowl.  No need to over work it.
  3. Pull the puff pastry out and lightly spread the cheese all over.  Top with vegetables – root veggies, mushrooms and a little bit of spinach.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10 minutes.
  4. You’re dominating winter.

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The Verdict:

So easy, so quick & it even looks pretty!  Fact: puff pastry is a gift to dinner.

Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Salad

It is either a mark of supreme laziness or supreme awesomeness that with one 35 minute rotation through my oven last night, we now have the basis for a week’s worth of meals sitting pretty in our refrigerator.

Given that I was able to spend Sunday brunching with the Hubs, imbibing with our friends, and snoozing/alternately chowing down on cheese through the Oscars, I think we can all agree that supreme awesomeness is more likely.  Bonus: our grocery bill was kind to us this week, too.

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Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Salad

  • assorted root vegetables, peeled & diced.  Note: you can use any variety you like (obviously).  This is what we roasted here at home:
    • 3 parsnips
    • 4 carrots
    • 1 sweet potato
    • 3 pounds or so butternut squash
    • 1 bulb fennel (quartered, not diced)
    • 1 red onion (quartered, not diced)
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • dried cranberries
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • homemade dressing (or any dressing you like)
  • optional: nuts, prosciutto, etc.

(Do we even need directions?)

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Peel, dice and appropriately chop your vegetables and scatter in large baking dishes.  Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper; feel free to use your favorite spices, as well.  Roast for about 35 minutes.
  2. As the veggies come out of the oven, assemble your salad – the warmth of the vegetables will slightly melt the goat cheese, creating a delicious creaminess, and lightly wilt the spinach.  Spoon a little dressing over the salad and serve immediately.  Preferably with some cheese + charcuterie.

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The Verdict:

The Husband was highly skeptical of a “salad” for dinner.  I sweetened the deal with an accompanying cheese board, and we both went to bed with full & happy stomaches.  I just wish that bedtime had happened a little earlier…too much Oscars!

Very Veggie Not-Quite-Tart

Last week, I had epic plans to make Ottolenghi’s Very Full Tart.

Which I did, sort of.  There were (obviously, because why can’t I just follow a recipe, why why why) some tweaks.  (I guess because when recipes call for things like zucchini, which I hate, you know there have to be some adjustments…& one adjustment, leads to another, and another…)

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if only i could follow directions…

Very Veggie Not-Quite-Tart

  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 smallish eggplant, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (or 2 medium onions)
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • leaves from about 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/3 cup ricotta (full fat works best)
  • about 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • a handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 eggs
  • about a cup heavy cream or milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper, place in ovenproof dish, drizzle a bit of olive oil over it and stick in the oven.
  2. Toss the diced eggplant with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of crushed reds on a large baking dish; stick in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potato to the eggplant pan and roast another 20 minutes.  In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil and saute the onions with bay leaves and a pinch of salt for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove all the vegetables (including the pepper) from the oven.  Reduce the temperature to about 325 degrees F.  Cover the pepper with foil and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, peel and chop into smaller slices.
  5. Grease the bottom of a pie or tart pan.  Spread out the panko bread crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the sides.
  6. Scatter the onion over the panko, cover with roasted vegetables (eggplant, sweet potato, bell pepper), and top with about half the thyme leaves.  Dot the veggies with both types of cheeses.  Scatter the halved tomatoes about the top.
  7. Whisk the eggs and cream in a small bowl with salt, pepper and some crushed red peppers.  Carefully pour the mix over the veggies and top with the remaining thyme leaves.
  8. Bake the tart for about 40 minutes or until the filling sets.  Admire your handiwork and serve with a small salad, (topped with any roasted vegetables that didn’t fit into your tart).
layers of veggie flavor
layers of veggie flavor

The Verdict:

This came out deliciously, and was great for a number of tasty, subsequent lunches. However, it won’t become a staple around here anytime soon, given that it took 2+ hours to make.  This is more of a snow day kind of meal.  Which, speaking of, where IS my snow day?!