Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pea Pesto Pasta

Made this the other night and it was so good! Great way to use all those fresh peas from your garden (or frozen peas from the store)!

I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, go here to get it!

Changes I made:
Used roasted salted almonds instead of pine nuts (which I didn't have)
Added more garlic
Used shell pasta instead of linguine

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken "Gyro" with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

Photo from here.

We’ve been on a Greek kick for the past couple of months because of a certain someone on the Next Food Network Star show…we’re so glad she didn’t win but really enjoyed watching her make some of the most amazing Greek dishes. Her dishes had our mouths watering every time she cooked! We’ve been to a few Greek restaurants lately and that coupled with the show has made us want to incorporate a Greek dish into our family dinner rotations.

This recipe can be done with lamb or chicken. We haven’t tried it with lamb yet…in fact, neither of us has ever eaten lamb. But the next time we make this (which will probably be in a couple of weeks) we will make it with lamb and report back. :) Making it with chicken can be a little less scary for kids and people who are not used to Greek food…but we’re serious when we say this: this is one of the most flavorful dishes we have ever made (to date).

So first…you gotta make the marinade for your chicken/lamb…

Ingredients for marinade:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest OR 2 to 3 drops lemon oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions for marinade:
Crush the garlic, and mix it with the remaining ingredients. Trim any fat off of your chicken and cut them into strips about 2.5” inches wide. Place the strips on a cutting board, and pound them till they're about 1/4-inch thick. You may want a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken while you're pounding to keep it from "spattering." Put chicken and marinade into a Ziploc freezer bag and keep refrigerated until ready to cook (up to 24 hours).

Next, the cucumber yogurt sauce…

Ingredients for cucumber yogurt sauce:
2 cups (16 ounces) plain yogurt (whole or low-fat, not nonfat, preferably without gum or other thickeners*)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 12 ounces, about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions for cucumber yogurt sauce:
Place the yogurt into a yogurt cheese maker, or into a very fine sieve, or a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Set it over a bowl (if you're using a sieve rather than yogurt cheese maker), and let it drain for 1 hour or so; up to 3/4 cup of liquid will drain off. This helps thicken the sauce (and trust me, you want it thick…not runny), and also mellows the acidic flavor of the yogurt. If you're using an English cucumber, or one without waxed skin, you don't need to peel it. Mix the chopped cucumber with the salt, place it in a colander, and let it drain for 30 minutes or so. Rinse the drained cucumber with cool water, and let it drip dry. Crush the garlic, and chop the mint leaves medium-fine. Or combine the garlic and mint in a small food processor, pulsing a few times till they're pretty finely chopped. Remove the thickened yogurt from the drainer, and mix it with the garlic and mint. Add the drained cucumber, then the black pepper, stirring to combine. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for several hours (or overnight) for the flavors to meld.
Yield: about 2 cups sauce.

Assembling the sandwiches:

6 to 8 soft flatbreads (I used pitas and it turned out divine!)
olive oil
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
cucumber yogurt sauce

You can either grill the chicken or sauté it as follows. Heat a cast iron or other heavy frying pan over medium-high heat for several minutes, until a drop of water will bounce across the surface. Grease the pan very lightly, and place as much chicken as will fit in a single layer into the pan. Cook until the edges turn white before turning over. The chicken is thin, so this doesn't take more than about 4 or 5 minutes before it's ready to turn. Cook just until browned, then remove it from the pan. The sandwiches are good made with either warm or cold (refrigerated) chicken, so this is a flexible recipe.

Lightly brush one side of each of the breads with olive oil. Grill them, or heat them in a heavy skillet just until they're warm and pliable (and we discovered that the hotter the pitas were…the better they tasted…so let them get hot). Place the breads on a plate, and top them with the cooked chicken, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Add a dollop of sauce. For a more portable feast, use a square of parchment or waxed paper to roll and transport the sandwiches.
Yield: 8 sandwiches.

YUM! Let us know what you think!

Recipe from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 4, Spring 2001 issue.