Grilled Chicken with Italian Herb Marinade

Grill this tasty chicken after marinating it in a lemon-olive oil marinade with Italian herbs. Easy peasy on a warm day. I served it with grilled eggplant salad

eggplant and chicken with pasta

served it with grilled eggplant salad,  linguine or spaghetti with a bit of grated Parmesan on top.

Ingredients:

herbs

Juice of one large lemon

1/4 cup EVOO

Several grinds of black pepper and of garlic-onion salt

Several shakes of red chili pepper flakes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 sprig rosemary, minced

1 sprig fresh oregano (optional but nice), minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 thin-sliced chicken breasts

Directions

Combine marinade ingredients in a plastic or glass container. Immerse chicken in it and marinade for 1 or 2 hours. Heat grill to high and place chicken on it. Turn grill to medium. Flip chicken over when one side is cooked, then pour a little marinade on it and cook the other side. Chicken should be brown but not dry.

Serve with pasta. Nice paired with grilled eggplant salad and chopped artichoke hearts and sprinkled with Parmesan.

pasta chicken eggplant artichoke heat and Parmesan

 

Baked Ziti with Swiss Chard

baked ziti inside

This is a lighter version of the traditional baked ziti, which is usually loaded with cheese and sausage. As I don’t eat red meat anymore, I substituted ground turkey for the sausage. I made this during the Coronavirus shelter in place, using whatever I had in the kitchen. I only had 1/2 cup each of mozarella and parmesan and I substituted penne pasta for ziti. (Penne are narrower than ziti , have ridges and are cut at an angle, thus resembling a quill pen.) I added flavorful red chard to up the healthy lightness. It came out cheesy enough and we had enough for several meals.

red chard

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. ground turkey (half of a pound package)
  • 1/2  onion, finely chopped
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 14-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (they are the best, but if you can’t find them, use what you can)
  • 1 bunch red Swiss chard, rinsed thoroughly and chopped roughly, Chop the stems about 1/2 inch diameter.
  • 8 oz. ziti or penne pasta (1/2 box)
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350′

Heat olive oil in a medium-large pan until it shimmers. Add ground turkey and cook on high for a few minutes to brown the meat. Add onion, chard, and salt, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes until they are soft and the onions are translucent. Add garlic and seasonings and stir for a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook on low for another 15 minutes. You can make the sauce ahead of time.

While sauce is cooking, boil a medium-large covered pot of salted water. Stir in the pasta, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, until it is al dente. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water to the sauce. The starch in the water will help emulsify the sauce. Drain pasta, then stir the pasta and the sauce together in the large pot.

Oil a casserole dish. Add a third of the pasta mix, then top with 1/4 cup of the combined cheeses. Repeat with the next layer. After you add the last layer of pasta, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn  the broiler on high and broil for 5 minutes until the cheese is a golden brown. It is even better the next day after the flavors meld.

baked ziti

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Linguine with Prawns

linguine with prawns December 31 2017I made this on New Year’s eve and served it with a glass of white wine. Happy New Year!

Serves 3 -4

Ingredients:

12 shrimp (26/30 per pound size)

1 1/4 cups water

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 large bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sugar

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp salt, to taste

8 oz bottle clam juice

1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water

4 cups baby spinach

To cook linguine:

8 – 10 oz linguine pasta (depending on how hungry your guests are)

1 gallon boiling water

Garnish:

3 Tb pine nuts (approximately)

2 Tb minced parsley

3 Tb finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

Defrost shrimp if using frozen shrimp.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in a small pot. Peel shrimp and add shells to the boiling water. Let cook for 15 minutes.

While shells are cooking, boil 1 gallon water in a large pot and add 1 tsp salt.

Dice onion, bell peppers and thinly slice garlic. Heat oil in a heavy pot and stir fry the onions and bell peppers until soft. Stir in sugar, garlic, oregano and basil.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Strain shrimp-shell broth into the larger tomato can and swish it around to get all the tomato juices out, then pour into the smaller can and do the same, and then add to the pot. Stir in clam juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer while you finish preparing the other ingredients, about 10-15 minutes.

Slice the artichoke hearts into quarters and add to the sauce. Stir in the shrimp.

Stir in the linguine to the boiling water, and boil uncovered according to package directions (usually 9 minutes).

Wash and mince the parsley and wash the baby spinach.  Stir in the white wine and baby spinach to the sauce. Drain the linguine and place on each plate. Spoon sauce over the linguine. Garnish with parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts. Mange!

 

 

 

 

Eggplant Marinara


eggplants roasted with peppers

Rich with eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes, spicy with Italian sausage,  garlic and pepper, and fragrant with Italian herbs, this marinara sauce is ideal for pasta or Lasagna. It’s got 1/2 teaspoon red pepper for a nice heat but if you are sensitive to spiciness, just put in 1/4 teaspoon. There are two ways to make this marinara: with chopped oven-roasted globe eggplant, or sliced Italian eggplant. You could even use both for an extra helping of vegetables. I roasted the mushrooms to bring out their earthy flavor.

I took a tip from The Breakaway Cook Eric Gower, and added ground dried mushrooms for umami, (Japanese for savory deliciousness), which wonderfully expands and rounds out flavors.

Along with my homegrown herbs, I add a fresh bay leaf. I pick them when I get the chance to hike in the hills around Berkeley and Palo Alto. Their aroma brings me memories of my youth hiking and biking those hills. Just be careful about leaving them in too long – the fresh ones are very strong and can overpower the sauce, making it bitter. Just leave it in about 15 minutes. You can substitute 2 dried bay leaves and leave them cooking in the sauce until ready to use.

Serves 8 (with pasta)

3 links turkey Italian sausage or vegetarian sausage. (optional)

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 Tb  salt (to taste)

½ tsp. red chili flakes. Less if you don’t want it spicy

5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

3 Tb minced fresh oregano OR  1 Tb dried oregano

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp dried basil

several grinds black pepper

2 green bell peppers and 2 red bell peppers. (can substitute 3 cups frozen or 2 cups jarred roasted red peppers)

1 small (6 oz) can tomato paste

¼ cup red wine (If you don’t have red, then substitute a dry white)

2 lbs or 14 large soft Roma tomatoes (substitute 48 oz can of crushed tomatoes (Cento brand is best) and 24 oz diced tomatoes

1 Tb sugar to taste

1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves

3 dried Shiitake mushrooms

1 large or 2 medium roasted globe eggplant  and/or  4 Italian eggplants, cut in rounds and quartered

1 cup quartered mushrooms: use about 12 medium crimini mushrooms or 7 criminis and 1 large Portobello mushroom, or whichever combination you dream up. If criminis are not available you can use regular white mushrooms.

1  14-oz can artichoke hearts, quartered

1 tsp fresh tarragon

I bunch (1/4 cup minced) fresh basil

Italian eggplant method: Roast or barbecue eggplant and peppers. Discarding ends, slice eggplant into rounds, then quarter the rounds.

peppers and eggplants

Globe Eggplant Method: Pierce globe eggplant with a fork, and roast in a heavy oiled baking pan in 425’ oven for 1 hour until it collapses.  Roast red and bell peppers  for the last ½ hour alongside the eggplant. Roast mushrooms for 15 -12 minutes until soft. You can roast the vegetables a day ahead of time.

You can also barbecue the eggplant peppers and mushrooms.

While eggplant is roasting and cooling, make the rest of the sauce.

Slice, quarter and brown sausages and drain the fat.

onions

Cook onion and salt in olive oil over low heat, covered for 20 minutes until it softens and is translucent.

onions and spices

Add chili flakes, garlic, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and black pepper. cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until herbs release their fragrance. If using frozen bell pepper, add them now. Add browned sausages.

Add tomato paste, then fill tomato paste can with water then stir in the tomato paste that has stuck to the can. If using canned tomatoes, add them and rinse out the cans with a bit of water and add it to the onions.

If using fresh Roma tomatoes, halve them and scoop out seeds and fibrous ribs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulse tomatoes in food processor until desired consistency is reached. I did mine on the chunky side. Stir into tomato paste and herb mixture. Add sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

If using chopped Italian eggplant, add it to sauce.

If using globe eggplant, scrape it out from the peel and mince it. Stir it into the sauce. Peel the bell peppers and mince them, then add to the sauce.

Quarter crimini mushrooms and chop Portobellos and mix in the sauce.

Grind the dried mushrooms until pulverized in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. Stir into sauce.

Add 1/4 cup wine and sip some on the side…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If using roasted bell peppers, stir them into the sauce.

Stir well and let simmer for an hour. You can make this in a crock pot and let it simmer for several hours.

Add quartered artichoke hearts and fresh tarragon for last 10 minutes of cooking. Just before serving over pasta or making lasagna, stir in fresh basil and cook a couple of minutes.