Tag Archives: main dish

Mediterranean Lamb and Veggie Skewers

Lamb and Veggie Kebabs with an adventurous marinade consisting of onions, garlic, and trio of warm spices give the skewers a bold Middle Eastern flavor that is bound to grab your attention.

When marinating lamb, no need to be shy with flavors that will compliment its rich and assertive flavor. But it is equally important to use a marinade that will also help tenderize the meat while imparting character. This is especially true if you are using lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb as opposed to lamb loin fillet, which is more tender.

To make the marinade, combine onion, garlic, spices, fresh parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest in a food processor. Blitz until everything is well-incorporated and you have a thick onion mixture.

Because the veggies and meat require varying cooking times, I divide them into 3 categories—and 3 ziploc bags. First the meat cubes, then the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and finally the red onion and bell pepper pieces which take the longest to cook. Refrigerate all three bags for up to 2 hours. As the grill heats, thread metal skewers with the bag contents.

We served our skewers over a bed of tri-colored couscous, but if your counting carbs, gluten-free, or following a keto-friendly diet, you may want to skip it. Add lemon wedges for serving.

recipe title=”Mediterranean Lamb and Veggie Skewers” servings=”4-6″ time=”40 min + marinating time” difficulty=”easy”]

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. cherry (cocktail) tomatoes
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
  • 1 yellow, 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 8 chucks each
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, root intact
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

For the Marinade

  • 2 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the lamb into 1 to 1 ½ -inch cubes or pieces and put them in a large ziploc. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, combine the onion, garlic, spices, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest. Cover and run the processor until everything is finely chopped (you should end up with a thick onion marinade).
  3. Divide the mixture into three equal portions and pour the first over the lamb and mix well to make sure all the lamb is well coated with the marinade. Repeat with the other two bags of veggies.
  4. Cover and refrigerate all 3 bags for up to 2 hours. (If you do not have time, leave the kebabs to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes).
  5. Brush the grates of a gas grill (or an indoor griddle) with oil and heat.
  6. Shake excess marinade off and thread the lamb pieces on some long metal skewers, allowing a little room between pieces. (Flat metal skewers are best, but wooden skewers soaked in water will also work).
  7. Repeat with the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and then the bell pepper and onion pieces.
  8. Assemble the bell pepper/onion skewers on the hot grill first. After 10 minutes, add the tomato skewers. Turn all skewers every few minutes as they begin to char.
  9. After five minutes more, add the lamb kebabs. Grill over high heat, turning each kabob one-quarter turn every couple minutes, until the meat is browned all over, anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how well you like your lamb cooked (5 minutes on our grill produced medium-rare kebabs).
  10. Remove all skewers at the same time. Slide all contents onto a large platter and pass around to each dinner guest. Plate with couscous, if using, and lemon wedges.

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[/recipe]

Loosely adapted from a recipe by The Mediterranean Dish

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Olives

Another one-pan wonder, and who doesn’t like that for ease of clean-up and prep? It works as well for company as it does for a weeknight dinner. According to ATK’s “Complete Mediterranean Cookbook”, cooking the tenderloins until buttery-smooth is key, and roasting them atop a bed of vegetables buffers the heat to ensure juicy meat all the way through, which is rubbed with herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.

The Mediterranean seasoning inspired the selection of vegetables: sweet, delicately flavored fennel, earthy artichoke hearts (frozen, to keep things easy), and briny olives (which I doubled the quantity). After softening the fennel in the microwave, it was tossed with the other vegetables and olive oil, and the mixture was spread into the roasting pan (or rimmed baking sheet), placing the tenderloins on top.

The vegetables are nearly cooked when the pork is done, so remove the meat to a moated cutting board and tent with foil. To the cooked veggies, add in juicy halved cherry tomatoes and lemon zest, and let them finish in the oven. After 10 minutes, the fennel should be tender, the tomatoes softened and releasing their juices.

NOTE: If using frozen artichoke hearts, be sure to thoroughly thaw and pat them dry; otherwise their moisture will inhibit the browning of the roasted vegetables.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • (12- to 16-oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick strips
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with herbes de Provence, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Combine fennel and 2 tablespoons water in bowl, cover, and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes; drain well. Toss drained fennel, artichokes, olives, and oil together in bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread vegetables into 16 by 12-inch roasting pan and lay pork on top, tucking under the thin part of the tail. Roast until pork registers 140 to 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, turning tenderloins over halfway through roasting.
  4. Remove pan from oven. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir cherry tomatoes and lemon zest into vegetables and continue to roast until fennel is tender and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Stir parsley into roasted vegetables. Slice pork into ½-inch-thick slices, and arrange vegetables and sliced pork on a platter, pouring any accumulated meat juices back over the plated pork and vegetables.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Summer Vegetables with Herbes de Provence

When your dining partner exclaims at least a half dozen times during the course of the meal “This is sooo good, I want to drink the sauce from my plate.” Not surprisingly, after every morsel of food was eaten, that’s exactly what he did. (After leftovers the next day, he did the same thing!) It’s no wonder because in this simple skillet dinner, seared bone-in chicken breasts are roasted on top of a bed of sunny Mediterranean vegetables and topped with a pan sauce that marry the ingredients into a unified delight.

Part of the charm happens before cooking, when the veggies are tossed with herbes de Provence—an aromatic seasoning blend that typically includes rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram and oregano, and sometimes other spices and herbs such as fennel, sage, lavender and tarragon. Our concoction is listed below, but you can also simplify it, or buy it if you don’t have a lot of the ingredients.

Herbaceous dry white vermouth is an ideal deglazing liquid for the browned bits left in the pan after searing the chicken. It is critical in elevating the dish and adds subtle but unmistakable herbal notes to the final meal. Dry white wine would work in a pinch, but the results won’t be quite the same.

Instead of one bell pepper, we used 4 or 5 small ones in varying colors because that’s what we had on hand. Plus, it lends more pops of color in the overall veggie scheme. Our Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron braising pot was the perfect vehicle in which to cook the meal.

NOTE: Don’t use oversized chicken breasts; 12-ounce pieces work best. Larger ones require longer cooking, which will result in overdone vegetables. However, if unable to find 12 oz. chicken breasts, and have to use larger (16 oz.), compensate by frying skin-side-down for a full 8 minutes, and then fry an additional 5 minutes skin-side-up before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. When you remove the skillet from the oven, don’t forget that the handle will be hot.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Summer Vegetables with Herbes de Provence

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 12-oz. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, trimmed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup drained capers, plus 1 Tbsp. caper brine
  • ½ cup dry vermouth
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475℉ with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of oil, the herbes de Provence, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini and capers, then toss to combine; set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
  4. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet. Add the vermouth, bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, until just warmed through, about 1 minute, then distribute in an even layer. Nestle the chicken skin up in the vegetables and add any accumulated juices. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches about 160°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven (the handle will be hot). Transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables the platter, arranging them around the chicken.
  7. Set the skillet over high, bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the caper brine, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce around the chicken and over the vegetables. Sprinkle with basil.

Herbes de Provence

Ground spices and dried herbs last about a year if kept away from heat and light.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. dried sage
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers
  • 2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large mortar and finely crush with a pestle.
  2. Store unused mixture in an airtight container away from heat and light.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Puttin’ on the Ritz with Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Considering that both chicken Parmesan and meatballs with marinara are popular choices, why commit yourself to just one? Here, Cook’s Country captures the best flavors of both dishes while minimizing the effort—and with fabulous results I must report. The Hubs is already planning to remake them for an upcoming retreat.

Starting with the meatballs, they use a flavorful mixture of Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to perk up the flavor of mild ground chicken. When shaping the meatballs, it’s a good practice to keep a small bowl of water nearby to dunk your fingertips in, it helps keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

In place of a panade (a seasoned mix of starch and liquid), crushed Ritz Crackers (we used the garlic butter variety) and an egg are stirred into the ground chicken. This paste adds enough structure to skip the browning step (which helps meatballs hold together) and still have meatballs that hold their shape and remain tender.

The sauce is kept simple with seasoned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce with a generous amount of fresh garlic, dried oregano, and pepper flakes. After a brief simmer, pour the sauce over the meatballs and top it with a crown of mozzarella (for its gooey meltability) prior to baking. When the saucy meatballs finally emerged from the oven, a sprinkle of savory Parmesan cheese, crunchy panko, and fragrant basil impart that familiar chicken Parmesan vibe.

You can make this dish ahead up to the point of topping with the shredded mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature as you preheat the oven, then continue with the remaining directions. Remember, the dish will need to rest for 15 minutes before you add the panko/parm topping.

As there was already crushed crackers and panko topping involved, I opted to serve the meatballs simply with a side of fresh green beans and a tossed salad. But if you’re not concerned with carbs, or want to stretch the meal, you can add cooked pasta and some crusty bread to help sop up all of the wonderful sauce.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2¼ tsp. dried oregano, divided
  • 1½ tsp. table salt, divided
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 22 Ritz crackers
  • 5 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (2½ cups), divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 8 oz. whole-milk block mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place crackers in large zipper-lock bag, seal bag, and crush fine with rolling pin (you should have about 1 cup crumbs).
  4. Combine crumbs, 2 cups Parmesan, egg, garlic powder, pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Add chicken and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  5. Divide mixture into 20 portions (about ¼ cup each). Using your hands, roll each portion into ball, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch baking dish.
  6. Pour sauce over meatballs, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until meatballs register at least 160 degrees and mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, combine panko, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl. Microwave until panko is light golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
  8. Sprinkle meatballs with panko mixture, remaining ½ cup Parmesan, and basil. Serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Country

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

With tomatoes at the height of their season, this fabulous salad hits all the right notes. No cooking, easy to prep, and tasty as all get out—providing you use great tomatoes. All we needed was one because the heirloom that we picked up at the local farmer’s market weighed in at a whopping 1 1⁄2 pounds and was bright red all the way through!

According to the Milk Street article where this recipe came from, pipirrana is a summery, tomato-centric salad from Andalusia in southern Spain. Consider it gazpacho in chopped-salad form. Their version of pipirran con atún, includes tuna, and hard-cooked eggs, making the dish hearty enough to be a satisfying main course. The vegetables are left in largish chunks instead of a fine dice, as is common. The onion is thinly sliced and steeped in sherry vinegar for a few minutes to tame its bite.

One thing you want to stay away from here is canned tuna packed in water. The flavor of tuna in olive oil is richer and its texture more velvety. And by all means, when you drain the tuna, do it over a bowl and use it when making the vinaigrette, adding olive oil as needed to make up the difference. Don’t know why most recipes fail to mention this step.

We drained the pickled onions directly over the bowl holding the tuna olive oil. This is used to make the vinaigrette that dresses the salad. We were blown over by how good this simple salad was—made even better with a chilled glass of crisp Spanish white wine.

Andalusian-Style Tomato Salad with Olive Oil Tuna

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 2 5-oz. cans olive oil–packed tuna, drained and flaked into small pieces (don’t discard the olive oil from the tuna can, save it to make the vinaigrette)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber and ½ teaspoon salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the onion, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Let both stand for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place a large strainer over the bowl containing the oil from the canned tuna. Pour the onion slices and their juices into the strainer, pressing down to remove most of the vinegar. Add the drained onions to the tomato-cucumber mixture.
  3. Add the bell pepper, capers and tuna to the vegetables, lightly stir.
  4. To the vinegar oil mixture, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the egg wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Za’atar-Rubbed Butterflied Chicken with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

For an easy, but impressive weeknight dinner, turn a simple roast chicken into a fabulous poultry dinner by rubbing it with za’atar. Using olive oil to form a paste, spread za’atar and salt underneath the chicken skin and let it rest in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours, which has the same effect as brining a chicken.

To cook it, use the Italian technique of cooking under a brick (or a pot in this case). Once the skin is crisp, brush on additional za’atar and olive oil paste. Then finishing the chicken breast side up in a hot oven turns the paste into a crisp crust. While the chicken cooks, create a zesty vinaigrette that brightens up the finished dish.

But exactly what is za’atar? It is so multifaceted and dynamic due to a blend of many different flavors, textures, and fragrances. Even though it varies greatly (specific recipes can be closely-guarded secrets), za’atar is generally a combination of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram (woodsy and floral), with sumac (tangy and acidic) and toasted sesame seeds (nutty and rich).

If za’atar is not available at the grocery/specialty store, make it at home, like us (see below). Play around with different quantities of crushed dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried marjoram, and add sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and, if you want, salt.

One of our paired side dishes was locally grown organic tomatoes, spread with fresh pesto, topped with slices of mozzarella, and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

TIP: We keep a jar of preserved lemons in our auxiliary refrigerator at most times. If you don’t have or can’t find preserved lemons, you can microwave four 2-inch strips lemon zest, minced, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon water, ¼ teaspoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt at 50 percent power until the liquid evaporates, about 1½ minutes, stirring and mashing the lemon with the back of a spoon every 30 seconds.

Because our chicken weighed over 5 pounds—25% bigger than called for—I used more za’atar mix and doubled the preserved lemon vinaigrette. It also took a bit longer to come to temp, but not much because we used a convection roast setting. If at any time while in the oven the skin seems to be getting too dark, rest foil over it while the meat continues to reach temperature. Test both breast and thighs with an instant-read thermometer.

Za’atar-Rubbed Butterflied Chicken with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Za’atar (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 4-lb. whole chicken, giblets discarded
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint
  • ¼ preserved lemon, pulp and white pith removed, rind rinsed and minced (1 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon za’atar, and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl.
  2. With chicken breast side down, use kitchen shears to cut through bones on either side of backbone. Discard backbone and trim any excess fat or skin at neck. Flip chicken and tuck wingtips behind back. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten, then pound breast to be same thickness as leg and thigh. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and, using your fingers, gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs.
  3. Rub za’atar-oil paste evenly under skin. Transfer chicken to large plate and refrigerate uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 1 tablespoon za’atar in small bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken skin side down in skillet, reduce heat to medium, and place heavy pot on chicken to press flat.
  6. Cook chicken until skin is crisp and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. (If chicken is not crisp after 20 minutes, increase heat to medium high).
  7. Off heat, remove pot and carefully flip chicken. Brush skin with za’atar mixture, transfer skillet to oven, and roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 10 to 20 minutes.
  8. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk mint, lemon, vinegar, mustard, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in bowl until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil until emulsified. Carve chicken and serve with dressing.

Za’atar

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. sumac
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Process thyme and oregano in spice grinder or mortar and pestle until finely ground and powdery.
  2. Transfer to bowl and stir in sumac, sesame seeds, and salt.
    (Za’atar can be stored at room temperature in airtight container for up to 1 year.)

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Recipes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

Cobb Salad for Four

Here’s an elegant low-carb salad that’s bulky enough to feed four as a main entrée. It was the perfect antidote for lunch on a recent Sunday afternoon when a couple of friends dropped by and our original plans for outside dining fell through due to inclement weather.

Much of the prep can be prepared ahead of time, such as the hard boiled eggs, bacon, and shredded chicken. A rotisserie chicken is so easy, and generally cheaper than buying a whole uncooked chicken—basically a no-brainer. But if you happen to have some breast meat already cooked, go ahead and shred that.

We always keep a homemade sherry-based mustard vinaigrette on hand, thus we used it with the added touch of flavor provided by the bacon fat. Sherry vinegar is now appearing not just in specialty stores but also in many ordinary supermarkets. With its nutty, oaky, savory flavors it is good in applications across the board. While we always buy “Columela” sourced from Spain, Napa Valley Naturals costs just $0.43 per ounce and is sold widely in supermarkets, so it’s a good one to try.

Cobb Salad for Four

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of Bibb lettuce, rinsed and torn
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, breast meat removed and shredded (save the remaining chicken for another use)
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and cut into 1⁄4″ slices
  • 8 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 8 strips of bacon, crisped and cut into 1⁄2″ pieces (2 Tbsp. fat reserved for dressing)
  • 1⁄2 cup vinaigrette with 2 Tbsp. bacon fat

Directions

  1. Prepare hard boiled eggs ahead of time. When ready to assemble salad, cut them into wedges.
  2. Make/buy a sherry vinaigrette (don’t use a balsamic version), and measure 1/2 cup; add 2 tablespoons bacon fat to vinaigrette a whisk together.
  3. Line the bottom of a large serving (or pasta) bowl with the torn Bibb lettuce. Toss the lettuce with half of the vinaigrette.
  4. Arrange each of the other items, except bacon, in rows across the Bibb with the chicken in the middle. Sprinkle the bacon across the center on top of the chicken.
  5. Serve salad family-style and pass around the remaining vinaigrette.

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Armenian Grill: Pork with Pepper Sauce & Skewered Potatoes

Khorovats is Armenian barbecue. Here, thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, are marinated in a mix of onion and oregano, then grilled with wood chips to infuse the pork with smokiness. According to Milk Street where we found this recipe, bone-in, blade-end pork loin chops are the best cut because they contain a good amount of fat, which keeps the meat moist and flavorful; but rib chops will work, too (because they are leaner, it’s important not to overcook them).

In a nod to son David’s fiancée Vikki, who has Armenian heritage, we decided to make this meal paired with another dish from the same country, Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers (recipe below). It’s pretty important to get spuds that are the same size, but was an impossible task at the time we were grocery shopping. So we had several that were larger and had to preboil them a bit longer as well as grill them several more minutes.

Left, Vikki and David hold dog Olive while they patiently wait for dinner to be served.

The sauce that accompanies these chops is also excellent with any grilled pork or chicken. All-in-all we agreed it was fabulous, our only complaint was that the garlic cloves could have been softer. I admit, I did choose large cloves, so cutting them in half or going smaller would most likely have remedied that issue.

The consensus was unanimous, we all LOVED the dinner!!

Tip: Don’t soak the wood chips before wrapping them in foil. Dry chips smoke more readily, which is desirable for quick-cooking foods such as pork chops. After placing the pork on the grill, don’t open the lid for 10 minutes. This allows the smoke to collect and create a more intense smokiness in the chops.

Armenian Grilled Pork Chops with Pepper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Pork Chops

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 10- to 14-oz. bone-in pork chops, each 1 to 1½ inches thick
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 cups apple wood chips (for smoking)

For the Sauce

  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes (4 medium), cored
  • 12 oz. Cubanelle peppers, Hungarian wax peppers or Anaheim chilies, stemmed, kept whole and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions

  1. To prepare the chops, in a food processor, combine the oil, onion, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Process to form a coarse paste, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Using a paring knife, make verticals cuts spaced about ½ inch apart into the fat on each chop. Add the chops to the onion paste and turn to coat, rubbing the mixture into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before heating the grill.
  2. Loosely wrap the wood chips in a 12-by-18-inch sheet of foil, forming a flat packet roughly 7 inches square. Poke several holes in each side of the packet. Prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a heaping chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and set the wood chip packet on the coals; open the bottom grill vents and lid vents. For a gas grill, place the wood chip packet directly on one burner that will remain on during cooking; turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. If using a gas grill, turn off one burner, leaving the remaining burner(s) on high.
  3. To prepare the sauce, while grill heats, in a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, peppers and oil. Place the vegetables on the hot side of the grill, then cover and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to an 8-inch square disposable foil pan and add the garlic, 2 tablespoons of butter and the oregano. Cover with foil and poke a few holes in the foil, then place the pan on the cool side of the grill. Scrape any excess marinade off the pork chops and place the chops on the cool side of the grill alongside the foil pan. Cover the grill, positioning the lid vents over the pork chops if using a charcoal grill. Cook without lifting the lid for 10 minutes.
  4. Move the chops to the hot side of the grill and cook, uncovered and turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and the centers near the bone are just barely pink when cut into or reach 135°F, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter, place 1 piece of the butter on each chop and tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, uncover the pan; the vegetables and garlic cloves should be completely softened. Using a fork, mash the vegetables until broken down but a bit chunky. Use tongs to remove and discard any large pieces of tomato or pepper skins that do not break down. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, followed by the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the pork.

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Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers

When purchasing potatoes for this recipe, look for ones about the size of an extra-large egg and that weigh about 2 ounces each and are of similar shape and size. The potatoes can be precooked and refrigerated up to a day in advance; just before grilling, skewer them, brush with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

You’ll need three or four sturdy 12- to 14-inch metal skewers; skewers with pins that are flat rather than round or square help prevent the potatoes from spinning around, making them easier to manage on the grill. Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill after you’ve removed the pork chops and allow the potatoes to brown while the chops rest.

Keep in mind, you don’t want to precook the potatoes at a rolling boil which can cause the skins to split (which did happen to a few of ours). Aim to keep the water at a gentle but constant simmer. Don’t skewer the potatoes without first chilling them in an ice bath. Chilling firms the potatoes slightly so that they cut more cleanly when scored with a paring knife.

Armenian Grilled Potato Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

  1. In a large pot over high, bring the potatoes and enough water to cover by about 1 inch to a boil. Reduce to medium-high, cover partially and cook until a paring knife inserted into the largest potato meets just a little resistance, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle but steady simmer, 8 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then transfer to the ice water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Thread the potatoes lengthwise onto each of three 12- to 14-inch flat metal skewers, dividing them evenly. Using a paring knife, make 4 or 5 parallel crosswise cuts into each potato, stopping when knife blade reaches the skewer; leave the second sides of the potatoes uncut. Brush the potatoes on all sides with about ½ of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and open the bottom grill vents and lid vents; for a gas grill, heat all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  4. Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter, brush with the remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and the oregano. Serve with lemon wedges.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Both recipes by Diane Unger for Mik street

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry, Oh My!

You’ll enjoy this unusual stir-fry combination utilizing fresh corn kernels cut from the cob. The corn, along with rice, does lean toward a carb-heavy meal, but it is so satisfying and full of flavor. Coating the chicken pieces in cornstarch thickens the sauce at the end so that it clings to the meat and veggies.

Rarely overpowering, oyster sauce is packed with umami and adds tons of depth to stir-fries like this one, boosting flavor in marinades, and just being all-around incredibly delicious. No ripe corn at the market? Bon Appétit suggests to swap in peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash.

As with any stir-fry, make sure to chop and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because once you start cooking, the process goes incredibly fast and you need to keep swinging that metal spatula around.

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb.), cut into 1” pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. (or more) Aleppo-style pepper or other mild chile flakes
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • Steamed rice and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)

Directions

  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Season with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. To the wok, add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add corn and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to wok with vegetables.
  7. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  8. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

This pesto chicken recipe takes a three-pronged approach, compliments of Cook’s Country. Starting with a batch of homemade pesto, a portion is thickened with extra Parmesan cheese to make a stuffing for the bone-in, skin-on breasts. A cheese-less portion of the pesto functions as a marinade, flavoring the outside of the meat. Finally, cheesy pesto, thinned out to sauce consistency, is served with the chicken for one final hit of fresh basil flavor.

I am a white meat fan when it comes to chicken, while The Hubs prefers the dark meat which he believes to be juicier. While I can’t always argue with that logic, I do know that with the skin and bones of the breast pieces intact, the more succulent the meat will be.

Our poultry breasts weighed in at 15 ounces or so, a bit more than the 12-ounce pieces listed in the ingredients. In fact, one of them was larger than the other three and actually took an additional 7 minutes to come to temperature, so keep a close eyeball on the internal temps with an instant-read thermometer, especially if they are varying sizes.

Brimming with fresh basil, this recipe was a perfect opportunity to cut it back mid-season from our herb garden, encouraging robustness for the remainder of the season. And while the directions indicate to marinate the breasts in the pesto sauce in a bowl for one hour, I let them get happy in a large glass baking dish for three hours in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with saran wrap.

Results? The Hubs LOVED them! That’s big praise coming from a guy who steadfastly prefers the dark meat of the thighs and legs. He couldn’t believe how moist the white meat remained and how flavorful the overall pesto approach was. “Let’s make this for company” he sang, and I thought yes, let’s!

Note: that the pesto base is divided into three separate mixtures for marinating, stuffing, and saucing the grilled chicken.

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/2 large lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 (12-oz.) split bone-in chicken breasts, trimmed

Directions

  1. Process basil, ½ cup oil, garlic, lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Remove ¼ cup pesto from processor and reserve for marinating chicken.
  2. Add Parmesan to pesto in processor and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Remove ¼ cup Parmesan pesto from processor and reserve for stuffing chicken.
  3. Add remaining ¼ cup oil to Parmesan pesto in processor and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses; set aside for saucing cooked chicken.
  4. Starting on thick side of breast, closest to breastbone, cut horizontal pocket in each breast, stopping ½ inch from edge so halves remain attached. Season chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of Parmesan pesto reserved for stuffing in pocket of each breast. Evenly space 2 pieces of kitchen twine (each 12 inches long) beneath each breast and tie to secure breast, trimming any excess twine.
  6. Place stuffed breasts in bowl and add pesto reserved for marinating. Rub pesto all over chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low. (Adjust burners as needed to maintain grill temperature of 350 degrees.)
  8. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side up, on grill (over cool side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until chicken registers 155 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken skin side down. If using charcoal, slide chicken to hot part of grill. If using gas, turn all burners to medium-high. (Our grill is very hot, so I only turned up the heat to medium.) Cover and cook until well browned and chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer chicken to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove twine from chicken and carve meat from bone. Serve, passing Parmesan pesto sauce separately.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Cook’s Country

Leftover chicken salad enjoyed poolside.

BTW, if you are lucky enough to have some leftover breasts, make a chicken pesto salad. When cooled, remove the cooked meat from the skin and bones. Either shred it, or cut it up in small chunks (it will still contain the pesto stuffing).

In a mixing bowl, add the chunked chicken, small diced celery, thinly sliced scallions, mayonnaise and more of the pesto topping. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. We served ours the next day for lunch over Bibb lettuce and topped with sliced yellow and red bell peppers and more sliced scallions.

Salmon with Sweet Peppers and Chorizo

The rich flavor and firm texture of salmon, one of our favorite fish, pair perfectly with sweet peppers made into pipérade, a Basque relish-like stew of peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Piment d’esplette is the authentic seasoning for pipérade, but instead a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne is used, both of which are probably already in your pantry.

And for smoky, meaty flavor, sauté slices of Spanish chorizo; the rendered fat helps cook the vegetables and the browned chorizo simmers with peppers for a few minutes at the end. We prefer salmon at medium-well doneness—that is, cooked until the center is no longer translucent. To cook the fish until opaque throughout, simmer the fillets for a few minutes longer, or until the center reaches 130°F to 135°F. Serve with warm, crusty bread if desired.

Tip: Don’t forget to place the salmon skin side up in the pan. This way, while the fillets cook gently in the pepper mixture, the skin, which we remove before serving, protects the surface from drying out. Also, don’t allow the pepper mixture to simmer vigorously while the fish is in the skillet. Medium heat should ensure a gentle simmer, but adjust the burner as needed.

Salmon with Sweet Peppers and Chorizo

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. center-cut salmon fillets
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 oz. Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red or orange bell peppers (or 1 of each), stemmed, quartered lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 14½ oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 large thyme sprigs

Directions

  1. Season the salmon on both sides with salt. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the oil and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil has taken on a reddish hue and the chorizo begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a small plate and set aside.
  2. Set the skillet over medium-high and heat the fat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers, onion, paprika, cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are wilted and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the vermouth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes with juices along with the thyme, then bring to a simmer. Nestle the salmon fillets, skin-side up, in the mixture. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer, until the thickest parts of the fillets reach 115°F to 120°F, 6 to 8 minutes. If you want your salmon opaque throughout, cook a few minutes longer.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully peel off and discard the skin from each fillet. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the salmon to serving plates, flipping each piece so the skinned side faces down.
  6. Bring the pepper mixture to a simmer over medium-high, add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the thyme, then spoon the mixture over and around the salmon and drizzle with additional oil.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

In this Mediterranean recipe, you will coax orzo pasta to a rich, creamy texture, as if making risotto. A fragrant broth* of brandy, aromatic vegetables and shrimp shells is the cooking liquid for the orzo, infusing the dish with richness and subtle sweetness.

The shrimp themselves are added only after the orzo is al dente so they remain plump and tender. This adaptation from Milk Street takes a simple approach to the cooking with fewer ingredients than the Greek original, but retains the delicious, bracing flavors.

Ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored spirit; it’s added at the very end of cooking to accentuate the licorice notes of the fennel seed. Milk Street suggests that you don’t choose large zucchini for this recipe. Look for small to medium squash (ones that weigh 6 to 8 ounces each), as they have fewer seeds to remove. Well our supermarket didn’t have any smaller ones so we got a large zucchini before reading this tip, and it worked out fine.

To seed the zucchini, use a small spoon to scrape along the center of each half. Also, if making the shrimp broth, when simmering, don’t allow it to boil or simmer vigorously or the liquid will evaporate too quickly and the finished volume will be too slight.

*Since we already had homemade shellfish stock on hand, there was no need to make the broth and thus omitted the red bell pepper, celery and onion, and started at Step 5 with seasoning the shrimp. We also used frozen shrimp without shells since we weren’t making broth. These two things saved a large amount of time in prepping and cooking. We did however add the brandy to our homemade stock and included the bay leaves in the cooking process.

Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mints

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved
  • 3 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 lb. total), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 lb. ripe plum or cocktail tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon ouzo
  • 1½ tsp. grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring just once or twice, until bright pink and dry, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, bell pepper, onion, bay and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to release moisture, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the brandy and scrape up any browned bits. Add 4 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Cool for about 10 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl; press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible (discard the solids). You should have about 3 cups strained broth.
  5. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the orzo and stir to coat.
  6. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add 1½ cups shrimp broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 6 minutes; reduce the heat as the mixture thickens.
  8. Add another 1 cup broth and cook, stirring vigorously and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the orzo is tender and the consistency is slightly soupy, 3 to 6 minutes.
  9. Add the shrimp and another ¼ cup broth, then cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.
  10. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay, then stir in the ouzo and lemon zest. If desired, thin the consistency by stirring in additional broth, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the mint.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

This was an adaptation of a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Chicken

With a penchant toward bold flavors, this recipe from Milk Street appealed to us from the get-go. Typically, bone-in chicken thighs are also sold with the skin on. Simply remove it before cooking, and if you make homemade chicken stock, save it with your other body parts for the next time you throw some together.

In Vietnam, turmeric, garlic, chilies and fish sauce—staple ingredients in the Vietnamese kitchen—douse chicken with a riot of flavor and provide that gorgeous caramel coloring. The other main ingredient, lemongrass, is a grass of robust habit native to southern India and Ceylon that is grown in tropical regions for its lemon-scented foliage used as a seasoning and that is the source of an aromatic essential oil.

Luckily, instead of mincing fresh lemongrass, which requires a good amount of time and effort, simply bruise the stalks so they split open and release their essential oils into the braising liquid; then remove and discard the stalks when cooking is complete.

The soy sauce was an addition to the Milk Street recipe, a stand-in for the MSG and pork bouillon. The braising liquid is thickened with a little cornstarch to give the sauce just a little body. Serve the chicken with steamed jasmine rice.

Simply stated, 2 1⁄2 pounds of bone-in chicken is not enough for four adults. Plan on eight large thighs, no matter the weight. I went ahead and incorporated this change in the list of ingredients below.

Heads Up: Don’t leave the skin on the chicken. The bone adds flavor to the braise, but not the skin, which turns soggy with simmering and releases fat into the liquid. But bone-in thighs are almost always sold with skin, so simply pull it off before cooking.

Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cilantro and/or sliced scallions, to serve

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, chilies and turmeric, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the lemongrass, broth, soy sauce, sugar and 1 cup water, then bring to a simmer. Add the chicken skinned side down in even layer and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skinned side up to a serving bowl. Cook the braising liquid over medium until reduced by about half, about 12 minutes. Remove and discard the lemon grass.In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the mixture into the braising liquid, return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  4. Off heat, stir the lime juice and fish sauce into the braising liquid, then taste and season with pepper. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover and let stand until heated through, about 5 minutes. Return the braise to the serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe adapted by Diane Unger for Milk Street

OMG, The BEST Moroccan Chicken Skewers

WOWSER, these were so friggin’ good! While the original Milk Street recipe broiled the skewers, we decided to grill them for a more enhanced char. The skewers are then finished with the juice of charred lemon halves that have been drizzled with honey, along with a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint are good choices, alone or, as we did, in combination.

As a perfect accompaniment we also grilled vegetables tossed in EVOO, salt and pepper. Some skewers were laced with red and green bell pepper along with onion wedges; while others consisted of cherry tomatoes and mushroom caps. We purposely arranged them separately because the onion and pepper pieces took longer to cook. And if you’re not restricting carbs or gluten, tricolored couscous can round out the meal nicely.

Some reviewers commented that they used pomegranate molasses as a finishing drizzle with the herbs because it’s not as sweet as honey but still adds another interesting texture and taste. I think that’s worth a try!

Grilled Moroccan Chicken Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 lemons, halved
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, plus extra to drizzle
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1½ lbs. halved boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Chopped fresh herbs

Directions

  1. Preheat the grill for direct high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, ginger, spices, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside 2 tablespoons.
  3. Toss the chicken with the remaining mixture. Scrunch the chicken onto metal skewers, then place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Add the 4 lemon halves.
  4. Oil the grates and grill chicken and lemon halves until charred, about 12 minutes, flipping the chicken skewers halfway through.
  5. Spoon the reserved lemon-oil mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with herbs.
  6. Drizzle the lemon halves with honey and serve alongside for squeezing over the chicken.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

It’s not unusual that most of us would like to cut calories and fat where we can, but not loose flavor. With this riff on a Martha Stewart recipe, you bake rather than fry, for less mess and less fat. In addition, there is no salting of the eggplant to extract moisture—a process I’ve never grown fond of.

Another plus, make the chunky tomato sauce a day or two ahead and save time on dinner night. It only takes about 20 minutes total, then refrigerate in an air tight container, and you’re one step ahead of the game.

As we prepped the dish, we realized that a few tweaks to the recipe were needed. After coating the slices for one of the eggplants, we noted there would not be enough for all the remaining slices, so we quickly increased by about another 50%; while the amount of egg wash was spot on.

The shredded mozzarella was increased to 2 cups from 1 1/2, although we would even increase it more next time! The dried basil was swapped out for fresh, making sure to add it between layers as well as a garnish. One of those grocery store clamshells of basil is the perfect amount. These changes are noted in the ingredients below.

It was so light and tasty, The Hubs claimed it might be the best Eggplant Parm he’s ever had! Can’t wait to attack those leftovers… Serves 8 as a side dish, 6 as a main.

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Chunky Tomato Sauce (Yields 6 cups)

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Parm

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 Tbsp. for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, chopped to equal a loose 1/2 cup, save some whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 lbs. total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2+ cups shredded mozzarella

Directions

  1. Tomato Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Crush tomatoes into pan; add oregano. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Make up to 3 days ahead.
  2. Eggplant Parm: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and oregano; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  4. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and basil; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe