Showing posts with label cherry tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cherry tomatoes. Show all posts

Monday, March 23, 2015

One Pan Chicken Breast Dinner

Where is the quinoa, please? I'm certain I bought it but I don't see it anywhere. Don't you hate it when that happens? So the interesting quinoa recipe that I found will have to be another week. In the meantime, I tried this one pan dinner by Jaime Oliver.

I have to admit that this is the way I like to eat. Quick, easy, fresh ingredients with a simple sauce. Elegant in its simplicity, colorful, and even healthy. I was drawn in originally because of the way he cut the chicken breast. Instead of pounding it (which I never like to do), he makes two slices in the thick portion so that it cooks as fast as the thinner end. I never saw anyone do that before and had to try.

My concern was that it would be easy to overcook the chicken. Chicken breasts are a staple in my life so I know there's nothing worse than dried out chicken. It turned out fine but don't walk away and ignore it. The chicken cooks quickly. I suspect I didn't have the heat up quite high enough. Start at medium high and turn it down if necessary.

I used thin stalks of asparagus. If you find that your asparagus isn't cooked enough for your taste, remove the chicken to a plate when it's done and let the asparagus cook a few minutes more.

There's bacon in the recipe, which was interesting to me. You're supposed to place a piece of raw bacon over each piece of chicken after it's browned. Now, I happened to have leftover bacon, so I cheated a little and used two slightly undercooked pieces. I also added a teaspoon of bacon grease to make up for the loss of that flavor. In the end, my bacon just became soft. So the raw bacon would probably fare better.

The recipe also calls for basil leaves. It's not quite that season here yet, so I substituted a fine herb blend. Remember to watch the chicken so it doesn't dry out. Oh, and we're carb people so I served it with rice.

One Pan Chicken Breast Dinner
by Jaime Oliver

olive oil
2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 slices raw bacon
asparagus (two handfuls)
16 cherry tomatoes
12 Kalamata olives
a few basil leaves or 1/2 teaspoon of fine herbs
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan at medium high. Slice the thick ends of the chicken breasts into three roughly equal pieces so they will cook as fast as the thin ends. Salt and pepper the meat. Brown on one side, 2-3 minutes.

Flip the chicken breasts with tongs and lay the raw bacon on top of the breasts. Add the asparagus, tomatoes, herbs, and olives. When the bottom side is browned, flip the breasts again so that the bacon is underneath the chicken breasts. The bacon should crisp up. Flip again, moving the veggies around so that they cook.

Pour the white wine in the pan, scraping up any bits of bacon. Remove from heat and place the chicken on plates. Add the butter and swirl the pan to incorporate it into the sauce. Plate the veggies and pour the sauce over top of the chicken.

Slice the thick ends into three equal parts so they cook as fast as the thin part!

After browning, place raw bacon on top of the chicken. (Mine was cooked.)

Add the asparagus, olives, tomatoes, and herbs and . . .

. . . flip the chicken so the bacon crisps underneath it.

Flip back and add white wine.

Drizzle with the sauce.

So colorful!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


by Guest Vicki Lane
“The tomato vines, heavy with fruit, were sagging on their baling twine supports. Their lower leaves, spotted and rusty with incipient blight, would have to be clipped and burned, but the upper parts of the vines were continuing to put out tender new growth and star-like yellow blossoms. Elizabeth began to fill her plastic milk crate with the long, firm San Marzanos and Romas that would form the basis of herb-rich sauces to be stored in the freezer, as well as providing leathery oven-dried tomatoes bursting with the concentrated flavor of summer. There was a small basket for the tiny grape tomatoes whose seeds a cousin had brought from France – first choice for a tossed salad or eating out of hand.
Finally, there were the enormous slicing tomatoes – the aristocracy of the garden – deep crimson Brandywine, dark Cherokee, Black Krim, and a bright yellow nameless beauty whose seeds had come from Miss Birdie, a little bland in taste, perhaps, but so gorgeous in company with the others. Elizabeth laid these giants carefully in her big willow basket, envisioning a cobalt blue platter heaped with rounds of red and yellow interposed with slices of creamy fresh mozzarella, the whole glistening with generous amounts of olive oil, a prudent sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, shining crystals of sea salt, and fragrant ribbons of fresh green basil.”
This passage from my novel Art’s Blood inspired a reader in Hawaii to email me and accuse me of writing tomato porn – and causing her to lust after tomatoes that she had no hope of obtaining. 
Just now, as I write this in the first week of September, we are drowning in a sea of tomatoes. I have been canning and roasting and freezing and trying to use those luscious tomatoes in every way possible, all too aware that really good fresh tomatoes will soon be but a memory.
Gazpacho is a wonderful way to take advantage of this bounty. One can be very purist and chop everything by hand but then one wouldn’t make Gazpacho nearly so often – the processor turns this into fast food. My recipe is based on Classic Chunky Gazpacho from Sam at My Carolina Kitchen but I take some liberties. I also don’t actually measure – but I have a pretty good feel for what makes a tablespoon.
Begin by filling the food processor with cut up red tomatoes and whirring them till soupy – not pureed but not chunky either. Then pour this batch into a big container and fill the processor with more cut up tomatoes which you process into chunks. (I use a mix of tomatoes for this run – Green Zebras which are ripe and bright green, some yellows, some more reds – whatever’s ripe.)
Add this second batch of tomatoes to the container then use the processor to grind up two peeled cucumbers. Add to tomato mix. Repeat with onion and garlic – we like our gazpacho with lots more than Sam’s recipe calls for – I used one large onion and four large garlic cloves.) Finally, process till chopped, a bell pepper, green or red, or, if you like heat and I do, two or three jalapenos.
Stir all the veggies together, add the juice of a lemon, about four tablespoons each of olive oil and red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (I used homemade herb vinegar,) salt and pepper to taste, and a dollop of hot sauce (again, to taste. I like Sriracha hot sauce.)
Serve very cold. Embellishments such as garlicky croutons or a bit of sour cream are nice but unnecessary.
Here’re some more ways to have fun with tomatoes – or maters, as we call them in my neck of the woods.
Je Ne Sais Quoi Sandwich

Vicki Lane is the author The Day of Small Things and of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries which include Signs in the Blood, Art's Blood, Old Wounds, Anthony-nominated In A Dark Season, and Under the Skin (coming from Bantam Dell 10/18.) Vicki draws her inspiration from the rural western NC county where she and her family have lived on a mountainside farm since 1975. Please visit Vicki at her daily blog, her website or go HERE to learn more about Under the Skin.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

Remember how I was complaining last week about how busy I was?

Yeah, right.  I had no idea what the future held ...

I really didn't think I would get this post together in time, but here's the thing:  no matter how busy you are, you have to eat.  Or, at least, I do.  (I'm not one of those people who "forgets" lunch ....)

Anywho, after my Friday classes ended, I hauled my behind into my little Scion and shuffled off to the Kroger, desperate as much for dinner as for something to make for the blog.  And, lo, cherry tomatoes were on sale.


Notice the healthy basil in the midst of the weeds and dead leaves ... thank you, Mother Nature

Despite the wicked heat and drought, we have been enjoying a bumper crop of volunteer basil in our earth boxes.  (I actually planted some last year but was too lazy this spring ... thankfully, Mother Nature had my back.)  Fresh basil + cherry tomatoes + exhausted Wendy = Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil.

This is a recipe based on one from Cooks Illustrated.  The beautiful thing is that you can make it all year long (even sketchy cherry tomatoes will taste delish after they've been roasted).  The even more beautiful thing about this recipe is that the sauce makes itself in the oven.  So throw the tomatoes in the oven, boil the pasta, mix ... and voila!

So keep an eye out for those sale tomatoes (or hit your local farmer's market), and take an evening off without sacrificing your dinner.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

1 pound penne

2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (+ 1 Tbs. for pasta water)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

shredded parmesan, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Halve the tomatoes.  Toss gently with oil, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, red pepper, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.  Spread the tomatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast 35 to 40 minutes (until tomatoes shrivel a bit, but don't let them turn to mush).


Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package direction.  Drain pasta.  Return to pot.  Scrape the cooked tomatoes and juices into the pot, sprinkle with the basil, and toss gently.

Serve topped with parmesan.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.