Perfect Day, Perfect Dish

3 Apr

Saturday was perfect. The weather (despite a slight drizzle) was gorgeous in New York City, perfect for slowly and aimlessly wandering. We brunched at our favorite restaurant, browsed for books, went to a massive wine tasting and together created the perfect, no stress, delicious and easy Saturday night repast.

Ever since seeing this recipe, I’ve been trying to think of a variation I could make that would not contain quite as much citrus. While I adore lemons, the boy finds them a bit, well, annoying. I’ve been trying to bring him around to them… but, I’m really not trying all that hard. He recently realized he likes olives, and that’s enough for me. I can keep lemons for my own personal single-girl cooking nights. And wouldn’t you know it, but to replace the lemon in the sauce recipe, I chose olives. Funny that, no?

While the olives were delicious, as you can see, the sauce was a really funky color! That’s the problem with creamy sauces, sometimes, you really have to think about what you puree into the dairy. I suppose if I had used only green olives, it would have been a pretty, pale green, but, come on, who likes only green olives? They’re great, but, I prefer them in my martinis.

Inspired by SlashFood‘s recent Pantry Spring Cleaning series, I decided to delve into my secret stash of impulse pantry purchases and make a pilaf (say that 3 times fast!) as our side dish. The quinoa was purchased in January while I was atoning for my holiday season eating sins and the black lentils were a Trader Joe’s attempt at getting more legumes in my life.

I would have thought that with so many “super” foods in the pilaf it would have a grainy, icky texture (I don’t like pilaf very much generally, the mixed textures skeeve me out) but this was just perfect! The lentils were a fine base note for the slightly toothsome quinoa and the slippery, starchy orzo.

So, while the pictures are not perfect, the meal was, right down to the wine.

Head below the break for the recipes; Funky Chicken & Pantry Pilaf.

Pantry Pilaf

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 2 small handfuls Black Lentils (I believe these are also called beluga lentils, but I could be wrong)
  • 1/2 c. Inca Heirloom Red Quinoa
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1 small Onion, chopped finely
  • Olive Oil
  • knob of Butter
  • 2 small handfuls Orzo
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley chopped (I actually used these really cool cubes of frozen parsley I found at Trader Joe’s)

Prepare the lentils according to package directions. Remember, don’t add salt (perhaps it’s an old wives tale, but I stick to it!) Drain, place in a bowl and set aside.

Cook’s Note: This step can be done well in advance of the main cooking. If you do this, put the bowl of lentils in the fridge.

In a small pan, add the cup of water and a good amount of salt. Add the quinoa, bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the flame down to medium-low, cover and allow to cook about 15 minutes or until the water is nearly absorbed then add the lentils. Stir, cover and cook another minute or two until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, turn the quinoa and lentils out into a bowl and set aside.

In the same small pot cook the orzo according to package directions minus one minute. The pasta should be not yet al dente as there will be some carry over cooking. Drain orzo and add to the bowl with the lentils and quinoa. Cover to keep warm.

In a larger pan or skillet cook the onions in the knob of butter and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper aggressively. When the onions are cooked to your liking add the lentils, quinoa and orzo to the pan and turn to coat in the onion mixture. Add the parsley and the lemon zest and stir to combine.

Turn the pilaf out into a bowl, serve and enjoy!

Funky Chicken

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 25 minutes

  • 2 organic, free-range Chicken Breasts (bone in if possible)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • about 1/2 c. assorted Olives, pitted and smashed (if you plan on taking pictures of your dish, might I humbly suggest an assortment of green olives?)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsps. Goat Cheese
  • juice of 1 Lemon

Set your oven to 375°F.

Set a large oven proof skillet or dutch oven over a high flame. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Heavily salt and pepper your rinsed chicken breasts and carefully add them to the pot skin side down to brown. Turn once and brown the bottom. Turn off the flame and allow the oil to stop hissing.

Place the pan (with the chicken skin side up) into the oven to cook for about 15 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear.

Meanwhile, in a small food processor (or similar attachment for a hand blender) add the olives, garlic, a small glug of olive oil and a few healthy grinds of black pepper. Pulse until a sauce resembling a tapenade is formed. It should be both smooth and somewhat chunky at the same time. Set the tapenade aside.

Pull the chicken out of the oven when it’s done. Place the chicken on a plate and cover to keep warm. Pour out most of the oil, add the lemon juice and the olive tapenade. Cook til warmed through. Add the goat cheese and whisk to incorporate. Turn the flame off.

Spoon some olive sauce over the chicken to serve.

buon appetito!

This recipe is based on The Wednesday Chef‘s version of Amanda Hesser’s Lemon Chicken.

3 Responses to “Perfect Day, Perfect Dish”

  1. Sher April 3, 2006 at 6:30 pm #

    It looks distinctive–and yummy! I’m doing the pantry cleaning thing too. It’s sort of fun. And lets me see that I could do pantry meals exclusively if the bird flu ever hits and I have to hide in my house for weeks.

  2. ann April 3, 2006 at 7:16 pm #

    HA! Sher, I’ve so had the same thought! I think I could live on my supply of pastas and rices alone for, let’s say, a month?

  3. Chris April 3, 2006 at 9:24 pm #

    Hello — thank you so much for linking to my blog! So nice of you to send over a couple readers.

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