Farmers Market Chicken Dinner

chicken platter tastefood

Grilled Chicken, Garlic Scapes, Potatoes, Lambs Lettuce, Lemon, Roasted Garlic

A trip to the farmers market yielded the ingredients to assemble this spring dinner. It didn’t require much: one chicken, a bunch of green garlic, potatoes and lambs lettuce. A good glugg of olive oil, a head of garlic, and a lemon plucked from our tree was all that was needed to bring this meal together. And a skillet and a grill.

chicken skillet

Green garlic is young garlic and resembles thick spring onions. Its flavor is buttery and milder than garlic cloves, and it’s delicious roasted and braised. In this preparation, the bulbs and white stalks were tucked under the chicken which nestled in a skillet surrounded by potatoes and the garlic head. The green garlic tips were chopped and tumbled with lemon zest, oil and a pinch of sea salt, for a bright gremolata garnish – and no waste. Lambs lettuce is mild and pleasantly nutty and best simply dressed so as not to overwhelm its delicate flavor. I dressed it lightly with oil and lemon and scattered it around the carved chicken. And the roasted head of garlic? Squeezed into the pan juices for deep flavor and a rich final touch.

garlic scapes

Roasted Chicken Platter with Potatoes, Garlic Scapes and Lemony Lambs Lettuce

The beauty of this recipe is its ease of preparation and one-skillet method. The veggies and chicken roast together – either on the grill or in the oven. Other vegetables such as onions and carrots may easily be substituted. Serves 4.

1 (4 pound) chicken
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound garlic scapes
1 pound small yukon gold potatoes, halved crosswise
1 large head of garlic, outer layers of skin removed, top trimmed by 1/2 inch to expose the cloves.
1 untreated lemon, halved

Salad:
6 ounces lambs lettuce (mache)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. If you have time, season the chicken all over including inside the cavity with salt. Place in a bowl or on a rimmed dish and refrigerate uncovered for a few hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Drizzle and coat with olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
2. Prepare a grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat (about 400°F/ 200°C). If using an oven, preheat to 400°F.
3. Snip off the green stalks of the garlic scapes and set aside. Place the bulbs, the potatoes and garlic head in a large bowl. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat, then dump the vegetables into a large cast iron skillet (or grill-proof baking dish). Nestle the chicken into the center of the vegetables, breast-side up. Roast over indirect medium-high heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices and rotating the pan from time to time to ensure even cooking. Remove from heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest for 15 minutes.
4. While the chicken rests, squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan and gently mix around to combine with the juices and vegetables.
5. Finely chop the green garlic  tips and place in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
6. Place the lambs lettuce in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt in a small bowl. Add to the lambs lettuce and toss to coat.
7. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and arrange on a large serving platter. Arrange the roasted potatoes and garlic scapes around the chicken. Scatter the lambs lettuce around the chicken and vegetables. Spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken and vegetables and sprinkle with the gremolata.

Healthy Holiday Appetizers: Warm Smoked Salmon and Kale Crostini

Healthy Holiday Appetizers: Warm Smoked Salmon and Kale Crostini

~ Warm Smoked Salmon, Kale, Lemon, Capers, Parsley ~

During the holiday season, it’s nice to have a few healthy appetizers up our sleeve for guilt-free nibbling before a big meal. Warm smoked salmon salad is an elegant, healthy and seriously tasty starter which can be made in advance. Spread it on crostini, scoop it with tortilla chips, or take it one step further and pile on kale leaves for a bigger heartier bite. Just be sure to make a big batch. The salmon will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, perfect for having on hand for unexpected guests, a light lunch and late night cravings.

Warm Smoked Salmon and Kale Crostini

Depending on the event, you can serve these as bruschetta or smaller crostini. For a lighter version, skip the bread and use the kale leaves as the serving vessel. Warm smoked salmon is available in fish markets and specialty stores. To learn more about how it’s prepared, read here. Makes 10.

12 ounces warm smoked salmon, flaked
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons capers, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 baguette slices, 1/2-inch thick (or 5 slices levain bread, cut in half)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
10 lacinato kale leaves
1/2 lemon
Snipped chives, for garnish

Combine the salmon, onion, parsley, lemon juice, yogurt, capers, hot sauce and pepper in a bowl. Mix with a fork to thoroughly combine.

Brush the bread with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Toast in oven until light golden on both sides. Remove and cool slightly.

Tear 2-inch tips off of the kale leaves. (Save the rest of the kale for another use). Place in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Lightly massage the leaves to coat and slightly soften, about 30 seconds. Place a leaf tip on bread. Spoon salmon salad over the kale. Squeeze with half lemon and garnish with snipped chives. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Barley Kale Soup

barley kale soup

~ Mushroom, Barley and Kale Soup with Miso ~

We are entering the indulgent time of year with parties and holidays stretching into the months ahead. As fun as that may be, it’s important to have a few simple and restorative recipes up our sleeve for nourishing dining. This soup may be prepared within 30 minutes, and it’s brimming with health and good flavor. Quick cooked carrots and kale hold their shape, color and nutrients, humble barley adds fiber and minerals, and umami-rich mushrooms and miso promise second helpings.  If you are looking to indulge, this is one meal where you won’t feel any guilt.

Mushroom, Barley and Kale Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces sliced assorted wild mushrooms, such shitake, cremini, cepes
1 cup barley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale (lacinato or curly) tough stems removed, leaves torn in bite size pieces, about 4 cups
1 tablespoon red miso paste

Heat the oil in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots mushrooms and carrots and saute until carrots are bright in color and crisp tender and the mushrooms just begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Add barley and stir to coat. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in kale. Simmer until kale turns bright green and wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in miso. Taste to check for seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh thyme.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pasta tf

Are you looking for ways to get your family to eat brussels sprouts? This recipe may do the trick – with a little help from bacon. Fresh yet hearty, full of healthy crucifers and dotted with crispy bacon, this simple dinner is perfect for an autumn weeknight.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Cauliflower or broccoli may be substituted for the brussels sprouts.

Serves 4.

1 pound orrechiette or conchiglie pasta

1/2 pound bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved (quartered if large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet. Add the brussels sprouts and saute until they are crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the chicken stock. Continue to cook until the brussels sprouts are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened to a sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper and check for seasoning.
Add the brussels sprouts, bacon and cheese to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with extra cheese on the side.

Why I Cook and a recipe for Shrimp, Bulgur and Kale Salad

Why I Cook and a recipe for Shrimp, Bulgur and Kale Salad

I think many of you understand what I mean when I say that life right now is a little tilted. There is a new normal to many assumptions and expectations we have taken for granted. Some of this is organic: Life changes. Kids grow, parents age, we shift. Some of this is external, a result of the state of the world as we know it, affecting finances, jobs, homes, security – even the weather. We all have our own mix of ingredients that concoct a recipe, a plan, for life. Yet, the only sure thing is that there is no sure thing. And this is why I like to cook.

A while back, I was asked by a writer, cook and friend, Why do I cook? Since then I’ve given that question much thought and come up with numerous answers. If I had to choose one, this would be it: Not only does cooking nourish on a daily basis, stroking the senses and filling the belly, it’s predictable, methodical and intensely personal. While paradigms may shift, and new normals unfold, there is a consistency to cooking, rooted in history, embracing the present, telling a story and binding a family – colored by a sensuality and creative fingerprint that nudges the soul. I might not have a crystal ball, but I can predict my dinner, and I will make it happen. When I cook, I surrender to its principles, meditate on the process, and revel in its artistic shape. The power to create and provide the sustenance that nourishes and connects the people who touch us is a most simple and powerful gift which we can realize for ourselves and loved ones every single day, no matter the turns that life takes. That is why I cook. Why do you like to cook?

Shrimp, Bulgur and Kale Salad

There is something intrinsically satisfying about a grain salad. Hearty, fresh and toothsome, brimming with greens and chopped vegetables, it’s both nutritious and versatile. Feel free to substitute farro, quinoa, wheat berries or couscous for the bulgur, and toss in your favorite seasonal vegetables. Top it with shrimp, chicken, steak, or, for a vegetarian version, sprinkle with feta cheese. Serves 4.

For the bulgur and kale salad:
1 1/2 cups bulgur
1 1/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
6 large Tuscan/Lacinato kale leaves, tough stems removed, chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 large carrot, finely grated
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup each chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, mint and cilantro

For the shrimp:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon

Prepare the salad:
Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Pour the water over the bulgur and stir to combine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and Tabasco. Stir again. Set aside until the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender but chewy, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Taste for seasoning. If necessary, add more olive oil to moisten the salad.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. (If using a grill, prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat.) Cook or grill shrimp, turning once, until their color turns pink and they are just cooked through the center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with chili flakes, salt and drizzle with juice from half a lemon.

To serve, arrange salad on a platter or divide among serving plates. Top with shrimp. Garnish with extra red chili flakes and chopped parsley.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Warm Steak and Farro Salad with Golden Beets and Chickpeas from TasteFood
Spiced Bulgur Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Currants from Cookin’ Canuck
Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw from TasteFood
Layered Quinoa Salad with Beet Vinaigrette from Family Fresh Cooking

Apricot Brûlée: Roasted and Caramelized Apricots with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

Apricot Brûlée: Roasted and Caramelized Apricots with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

This apricot dessert has a few secrets. Not only is it sublime, it’s healthy and relatively low-fat. Its secret ingredient is Greek yogurt – a wondrous whole milk product which is richly thick, creamy and tart. Its secret technique is to use ingredients which are simple, fresh and in season – which isn’t really a secret, but a golden rule for cooking. Freshness and simplicity showcase great natural flavor and preclude the need to over-fuss ingredients.

The sumptuous results belie the ease and healthiness of these brûléed apricots. A little sugar is sprinkled over each apricot half, which are broiled until the sugar dissolves and begins to caramelize. As this happens, the fruit softens and breaks down, virtually melting into itself, held together by its soft skin with a puddle of caramelized sugar pooled in the center. Whisked Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened and brightened with lemon, is spooned over the top or to the side of the fruit – you decide – serving as a cool complement to the apricot’s warmth. It’s a luscious and fresh end to any meal. Your guests will be licking their plates.

Apricot Brûlée

Serves 4 to 6

6 ripe but not too mushy apricots, halved and pitted.
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, plus extra for garnish
3/4 cup Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest, plus extra for garnish

1. Heat the oven broiler or prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat.
2. Mix the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar in a small bowl.
3. If broiling, arrange the fruit, skin-side up, in an oven-proof skillet or on a baking sheet. If grilling, arrange the apricots skin-side up on the grill or in a grill pan.
4. Grill until the apricots begin to turn light golden. Flip the apricots and sprinkle the sugars evenly over each half. Continue to broil or grill until the centers are bubbly and beginning to caramelize, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the apricots between serving plates.
5. Whisk the yogurt, the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest together in a small bowl. Spoon a little yogurt over each apricot half (or spoon on the side of the plate). Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and extra lemon zest for garnish.

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon – recipe by Lynda Balslev

Go ahead, indulge yourself. These gorgeous blueberry tartlets are rich and creamy, fragrant with lemon, bursting with fruit and not-too-decadent. Why? The luscious filling is 100 percent yogurt, not cream cheese or mascarpone. The trick is to choose a full fat Greek-style yogurt. It’s thick and silky, with a tang that perfectly offsets mellow, inky blueberries. The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust, which, yes, has brown sugar and butter (as any self respecting graham cracker crust should). So these tarts are just a little bit wicked, but it’s a dessert after all, and what’s wrong with being a little wicked anyway?

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Makes 1 (10-inch) tart or 6 to 8 individual tartlets

Crust:
10 ounces graham crackers (or sweet digestive biscuits)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 cups whole milk Greek-style yogurt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or honey)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
Lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until crumbly. Add butter and pulse until the crust is blended and beginning to stick. If using a tart pan, dump the crumbs into a 10-inch tart pan, pressing with fingers evenly over the bottom and up the sides. If using individual tart dishes or ramekins, divide the crumbs between 6 to 8 ramekins and press the crumbs evenly over the bottoms and up the sides. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake in oven until crust begins to turn golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.

While the crust is cooling, whisk the yogurt, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cooled crust, smoothing the top. Dot the yogurt with blueberries. Garnish with lemon zest. Refrigerate until serving, up to 4 hours.