And life is good again! While Dallas isn’t exactly the best place to be in the summer time (read: it’s crazy hot, no sane human lives here), it’s right where I want to be. After spending the summer at home in Chicago recovering from knee surgery, I am over the moon to be back in this great state with some of the greatest friends on this Earth.
Now that we’re all reunited, it’s time to do what we do best: Eat. In this “Big Tested, Little Approved” post, I made Herb & Lemon Chicken (from Ted Allen’s cookbook) and a Pea and Pasta Salad (from Jeanne Kelley’s book “Salads for Dinner”) for my two precious littles. After a summer apart, we were more than ready to be together again!
First, I started prepping the Pea and Pasta Salad since it can be served cold (also, my smart ass bought an orange instead of a lemon so Savannah had to swoop in and save the day and bring a lemon… #strugglebus). Not only was this dish incredibly delicious, but so easy to make! It was refreshing, light, and the carb-addict in me was exceptionally thrilled to have pasta in my salad.
Pea and Pasta Salad: Serves 5-6
- 10 ounces fresh, shucked English peas (about 2 cups) or 2 cups thawed frozen peas (I used frozen peas, worked just fine!)
- 6 ounces sugar snap peas or snow pea pods (about 2 cups)
- 6 ounces orecchiette or conchiglie (for the non-Italian lovers in the crowd: the pasta noodle that looks like a shell) (about 2 cups)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 3 tablespoons with white balsamic vinegar (divided)
- 1 tablespoon minced green garlic or 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 1 (8 ounce) container of perlini (again for the non Italians: fresh mozzarella pearls), drained – Note: I couldn’t find this at my local grocery store so I bought fresh mozzarella and chopped it up and it still turned out great
- 1 cup pea leaves or baby spinach leaves (I used baby spinach)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Add both peas to pot of boiling water for about 1.5 minutes
- Use slotted spoon and transfer peas to a colander to set over bowl (this was my dog’s favorite part: several peas escaped the spoon that he was able to eat them off the floor… what a helpful cleaner-upper!)
- Rinse peas briefly under cold water and drain well.
- Boil pasta until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta, but do not rinse.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and garlic to hot pasta and stir to combine. Let sit until room temperature.
- Add peas, perlini, pea leaves, green onions, and mint to the pasta. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
And now it’s time to prepare the main course because Savannah arrived with a lemon (and wine – bless her heart). Tonight I made Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken. While nothing makes me happier than a gigantic bowl of lo mein noodles (ask my boyfriend, I have a slight addiction, it’s fine), I’m finding that eating so many carbs at night leaves me feeling stuffed and sleepy. Dinners that focus solely on a protein seem to be better for you and just as filling, so what can go wrong? Also this is a recipe from Ted Allen, the host of the Food Network sensation “Chopped” so really unless you seriously screw up (like buy an orange instead of a lemon…) this recipe should turn out just the way you want it to!
Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken: Serves 4
- 1 Lemon (Read: NOT an orange. Don’t grocery shop when you’re tired, folks)
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 4 chicken breasts (I used chicken thighs instead because, I don’t know why, I’m a rebel I guess)
- Strip zest off the lemon. Squeeze juice of half the lemon into a bowl (don’t throw out the other half!) Add mustard to lemon juice and whisk together. Then add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of thyme, the bay leaf, the cracked peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Put chicken into a bowl, add lemon zest, and toss to coat the chicken. Marinate it for at least an hour, no more than 4.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over pan over medium flame. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook chicken on one side for 5 minutes (I removed the skin, but if the skin is still on your chicken, cook it with the skin side down). Turn the pieces over and place them in a pan and put the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes (if you’re anything like Natalie and always dry out your chicken, check it at 25 then put it back in if it needs more time!)
- To make the sauce: Bring pan to boil to reduce juices slightly. We added a half a cup of the wine we were drinking and let that reduce as well (about 1-2 minutes), along with two tablespoons of butter. Stir in juice from the second half of the lemon as well as the remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme.
- Serve chicken with the sauce and commence eating!
And yes… Both these dishes got a big ole stamp of approval from both Natalie and Savannah! Happy eating y’all!