fit for family: part one

Though we got to see my parents last weekend, we spent Mother’s Day with Andrew parents (meaning Sneaky Lindsey Insists on An Excuse to Cook). On the menu for my Alice-in-law and the rest of the family:

Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta

Lemon Salad with Frico

Grilled Chicken Breasts

Maggie’s Brownies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Strawberry Chips

Easy Grilled Chicken

I rarely buy premade salad dressings as personal preferences—sometimes for sodium and preservative content, often because they just never compare to lemon and olive oil. But I tell you, I love using quality bottled dressings for last-minute meat marinades. Italian is versatile, especially for chicken that may be sliced over pasta.

for 4 servings

1 bottle Italian dressing

4 large chicken breasts

Marinate the chicken in a large freezer bag, pouring the entire bottle of dressing over the meat. I added empty lemon halves and a clove of extra garlic—any additional onion slices or fresh citrus you may have on hand only enhances your marinade. Seal and refrigerate at least an hour, and keep at room temperature about 40 minutes before grilling.

Remove your chicken from the marinade, pat dry very well and place over a medium-high grill for about 10-12 minutes until cooked through.

I certainly did not invent the notion of tossing vegetables with pasta, but I did create some fun combinations for maximum flavor in this dish. Can one ever go wrong with caramelized onions??

Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta

serves 8 as a main course

1 lb. casareccia pasta

1 shallot, sliced into rings

1 bunch petite asparagus, cut on a bias into 1-inch pieces

3 zucchini, diced (click here to see how)

1 small container ricotta (about 12 oz., fresh if you can get it)

1/2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

a few large basil leaves

grated parmesan cheese, optional

Shallots are easy to find these days, though the challenge can be finding a fresh one. Like any other onion, feel for firm texture and avoid discoloration. Shallots are often near the fresh garlic at the grocery store, but mild onion cousins. Peel and slice into thin rings.

Set a very large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water well, since the ricotta is very mild.

Caramelize the shallots

Over medium-low heat, add the shallot slices to half a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add a pinch of coarse salt and stir occasionally until the shallots are caramelized.

Sear the veggies

Set the shallots aside, and add a tablespoon of olive oil into the skillet. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the diced zucchini (in batches, if necessary) so it is not crowded in the skillet. Add a pinch of coarse salt and stir occasionally until the pieces are tender and brown, about 4 minutes. Add the sautéed zucchini to a very large serving bowl, along with the onions.

Into the hot skillet, add the asparagus (in batches, if needed) so it is not crowded in the pan. Add a large pinch of coarse salt and stir occasionally until the asparagus is golden brown and slightly tender. Add the asparagus to the other veggies in the serving bowl.

Toss it together (and even impress grandma-in-law)

Boil the pasta for the time al dente indicated on the box, and reserve about a cup of pasta water when draining. To the bowl of veggies, add the entire container of ricotta along with a pinch of salt and a generous grind of fresh black pepper. Toss the hot pasta into the bowl and top with basil, chopped just before serving. Stir in pasta water by the tablespoon to help melt the ricotta and smooth out the sauce—you will not need to add much, but it makes a big difference. Serve with parmesan on the side, if you like.

Mmmm, so creamy. I love simple, light dishes with fabulous finds at the farmer’s market. My heart just leaps at the abundant asparagus out there right now! Stay tuned for part two with some adventurous additions: frico and strawberry chips.



Filed under dinners, health, lickety-quick, techniques

2 responses to “fit for family: part one

  1. Alice

    I was on my way to the grocery store and needed something new and interesting to cook this week. Lo and behold I came across my Mother’s Day dinner. Yum!!! I’m off to buy the ingredients and only hope it will taste as good when I make it.

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