Easy Grilled Broccoli and Carrots

broccoli carrots

In a matter of a few weeks our farmers market has transformed into the vegetarian equivalent of a candy store. New leaves, baby shoots and spring bulbs are on display in miniature form as their growing season is in full force. In general, I like my veggies cooked simply, and at this time of year their freshness demands it. All that’s needed is a quick steam, saute, or a turn on the grill and you will have a simple and delicious side to any meal.

Broccoli and carrots pretty much sum up the ingredient list for this veggie side I made recently – plus a pinch salt and splash of olive oil for good measure. Everything converged on the grill, which in itself is another ingredient to the dish, adding char to complete the flavor profile. On the grill? Yes, if you are careful and lay the vegetables perpendicular to the grates to prevent them from slipping through. Better yet, if you have a cast iron skillet (which you should), preheat the skillet (or a griddle) on the grill, then sear the vegetables until they wilt and char, and you are good to go. Vegetables simply never tasted so good.

Grilled Broccolini and Carrots
Serves 4 to 6 as a simple side dish

1 pound baby broccoli (broccolini), ends trimmed
1 pound baby carrots, trimmed, halved lengthwise if thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. If using a skillet or griddle, preheat on the grill for 10 minutes.
2. Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil – just enough to coat without soaking – and lightly season with salt, then turn to coat.
3. Lay the vegetables perpendicular to the grill grates (or spread in the skillet) and cook until bright in color, crisp-tender, and lightly charred, turning as needed, about 5 minutes, depending on thickness of the stalks.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.  Serve warm.
5. Other options: sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes over for a nice bite and drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.

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.

Quick-Braised Chicken with White Wine and Vegetables

Braised Chicken Wine

White Wine Braised Chicken with Leeks, Carrots, Mushrooms, Thyme

Humble stews are quintessential comfort food. Braised and slow cooked, they are one-pot wonders infused with deep flavors coaxed from hearty vegetables and meat. These long simmering concoctions are often left for the weekend with stretches of time for cooking. So what to do during the week when we crave equally satisfying and nourishing meals in less than an hour? Quick braising is the answer. This chicken recipe can be quickly prepped and popped in the oven for 30 minutes of hands-free braising. Light yet rich, this flavorful meal will address any cravings for a hearty dinner. Weeknight food never tasted so slow.

Wine-Braised Chicken with Vegetables and Thyme

Keeping the chicken skin exposed while braising ensures that the skin will remain crisp and golden.

Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or wide Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Add the bay leaf, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

ratatouille  salad

~ Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Couscous ~

It’s that time of year when the garden is lobbing bushels of vegetables at us faster than a tennis ball machine. And it means one thing: It’s time for ratatouille. Now, mind you, this is not your traditional ratatouille. Instead of simmering a stew of Provencal vegetables on the stovetop, I’ve thrown eggplant, squash, onions and peppers on the grill until lightly charred, then tossed them with olive oil and fresh herbs. It’s a lighter version that’s very versatile. I like to serve it over couscous, tossed with pasta or spooned on top of grilled garlic bread.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

If you don’t have a grill, the veggies may be broiled in the oven. You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end. (If you grill them, thread on pre-soaked bamboo skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates). If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta or goat cheese before serving.

Serves 4.

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 red or yellow bell peppers, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 small eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, slice crosswise, 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Spread the vegetables on a tray. Brush with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in large chunks. Place in a bowl with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Braised Chicken in White Wine

Braised Chicken in White Wine

~ Braised Chicken in White Wine with Carrots, Mushrooms and Thyme ~

On the first day of the new year I make a stew. There are many reasons why I do this. Stews and braises are healthy and fortifying, a comforting antidote to holiday menus and festivities. Stews are reflective, incorporating humble ingredients with heat and time, yielding deeply flavorful results. Stews comfort and nourish us, while warming us on a cold winter day. This year I received a beautiful French oven for a gift, so I have another reason to make a delicious stew today.

Braised Chicken in White Wine

The chicken skin remains exposed while the chicken braises to maintain the color and crispness of its skin. Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an ovenproof pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits in pan. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Beat the Heat: Gazpacho

Beat the Heat: Gazpacho

~ Gazpacho ~

If heat could speak, then it’s shouting right now. It’s so hot outside, the candles have melted on the terrace, the dog hasn’t moved since yesterday, and we have blankets pinned down over our skylights to keep out the sun. In this heat, food must be easy, cool and light. Preparation should be kept to a minimum, and any heat generating appliances forbidden. In our home, this means it’s time for Gazpacho.

When I make gazpacho, we know that summer has arrived. We are dining al fresco, and the temperature is approaching triple digits. It’s a hot weather dinner staple that’s followed us from country to country, always called upon when we are in the midst of a heatwave. This gazpacho is chunky, and we affectionately call it a liquid salad. Not a fan of mushy consistencies, I dice all of the vegetables and float them in seasoned tomato juice. The result is a cool soup with loads of crunch and texture, satisfying and refreshing to eat. And in this heat, crunching our soup is the most exertion we can manage.


~
Gazpacho

Serve with cheese and bread, melon and prosciutto and a chilled rosé or sauvignon blanc. Serves 6-8.

32 ounces or 1 liter tomato juice
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, with juices
2 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced, green parts reserved for garnish
1 English cucumber, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 sweet red pepper, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (or parsley)

Garnish:
Sliced jalapeños
Cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges

Combine all of the ingredients, except the cilantro in a large bowl. Mix together and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to 6 hours. Before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve ganished with sliced green parts of the spring onions, sliced jalapeños, additional cilantro and lime wedges.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

Try this salad on for spring: Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas is packed with fresh herbs and greens, studded with radishes and sugar snap peas. It’s a refreshing version of tabbouleh, milder in flavor and bursting with seasonal vegetables.

What is tabbouleh? An addictively delicious Middle Eastern salad featuring bulgur wheat, steeped in water or stock, then tossed with an abundance of fresh parsley, mint, lemon and seasoning.  Its name translates to “little spicy” which is probably the tipping point for those of us who can’t get enough of this healthy salad.

As a concept I love playing with variations of tabbouleh. This recipe is inspired by the spring vegetables I purchased at the farmers’ market today. Kale flowers, radishes, sugar snap peas and red spring onions are tumbled with bulgur infused with lemon and olive oil. The spicing is gentle, in deference to the mild sweetness of the vegetables, without ignoring the “little spicy” contingent. Delicious and satisfying, enjoy this as a healthy salad, side dish or light main course.  I served it with pita bread and hummus for an easy vegetarian dinner.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

The bulgur should be tender but firm when cooked. The kale flowers are optional yet lovely as a bright garnish. Serves 4.

1 cup bulgur
1 1/4 cups water
Salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 pound sliced sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal, about 1 cup
1/4 pound sliced radishes, cut in slivers, about 1 cup
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

Combine bulgur, water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.  Cover and let sit until the bulgur absorbs all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Uncover and add 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, fluffing the bulgur with a fork. Cool to room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon salt and all the remaining ingredients, gently tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve on a bed of greens or in pita pockets.