Mediterranean Chicken-Quinoa Salad

I subscribe to The Splendid Table’s Weeknight Kitchen emails which come out every Wednesday, featuring easy-to-prepare recipes. This recipe for Greek Chicken Salad with Lemon, Feta and Grains caught my eye – anything with lemon and feta gets a second look from me! I made it the next night, without the tzatziki, and thought it was a little bland, so made some adaptations for a lunch with friends. We liked it! We served it with a Greek white wine and that beautiful beet hummus brought by friend Ruth. I will get the recipe from her and share with you soon! (Note: I’ve made this salad a few times since my lunch with friends and found that it is great with a dry rose wine also!)

Ingredients – serves 6

1 1/2 cups quinoa (I like red for its looks)

2 1/2 cups water

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced OR  2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil

3/4 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 – 3/4 pound cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, torn or cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Juice of 1 lemon

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1 preserved lemon, peel only, diced OR zest of 1 lemon

Lemon dressing: 2 tablespoons EV olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste

Spring greens salad mix

Instructions

Cook the quinoa: Rinse quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Take off the heat, let sit for 10 minutes and then “fluff”. Set aside.

Cook the chicken mixture: In a large saute pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil till shimmering. Add the garlic, scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes. (Alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil plus one tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red chili flakes and saute 3-4 minutes.) Add the oregano and the chicken and saute for about 5 more minutes. Add the quinoa and lemon juice and stir to combine thoroughly.  Turn into a large serving bowl and cool to room temperature. At this point, proceed with the following and serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. If refrigerating, let the mixture come to room temperature before finishing the salad.

Finishing the salad: Add the herbs, diced red bell pepper and preserved lemon or lemon zest, stirring to combine. Add the lemon dressing and stir to blend in thoroughly. Here you can add the feta cheese or you can pass a bowl of it after serving so each person can add what they want.

Serving the salad: Place a bed of salad mix on a platter and place the quinoa salad on top of it. Yum!!

 

 

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs

August 28, 2014

Greek Chicken Kebabs - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

We recently got a new gas grill, which replaced an ancient double hand-me-down (it was handed down to us from someone who had it handed down to them).  Our new one is also a hand-me-down, but much much newer, with no rust and *GASP!* it actually evenly cooks the food.  The other bonus to the new one is I can use it!  The old one had all these quirks, and it wasn’t easy to get started.  I could do it, but not very easily, and definitely not on a weeknight with two crazy kids hanging on me.  This new one is easier to use than the stove!  So I’ve been grilling every other night…no pan to clean up, and the kitchen stays nice and cool.  This is one of my favorite grilling recipes, an adaptation from the recipe magazine I use all summer long.  It’s not as quick as some of them, and doesn’t take 30 minutes like the magazine says, but it’s still quick enough that I can do it on a weeknight.  Plus, I kind of make it more complicated by doing veggie skewers for my vegetarian son along with it.  The recipe calls for serving it along with grilled pita, but I usually also serve with grilled veggie skewers and a green salad.

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs with Grilled Flatbread

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced

1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp juice from 1 lemon

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (about 1 1/2 lbs)

2 red onions, cut into 1″ chunks

4 pita bread rounds

1. Whisk yogurt, 2 tbsp oil, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in bowl.  Toss oregano, cayenne, and chicken with half of yogurt mixture.

2. Thread four 12-inch skewers with chicken and onions.  Grill over hot fire, turning skewers every 2 minutes, until onions and chicken are cooked through, about 12 minutes.  Transfer skewers to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.  Brush both sides of pita rounds with remaining oil and grill until lightly charred and warm, about 1 minute.  Transfer to platter with chicken.

3. Toss cucumbers with remaining yogurt mixture.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with chicken and pita.

Greek-style Green Beans - Fassolakia Ladera

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I made this dish a year ago after seeing Romano green beans at the farmers market and fully intended to post this recipe then. But time got away from me it seems. Just last weekend, we were in Vermont to visit Randy’s brother and his professional gardener partner, Bill, for their wedding. It was non-stop eating and cooking out of the garden. Bill had an abundance of runner beans he wanted to find a use for and, shazam, it just so happens that I had a recipe.  Plus, he had almost all of the ingredients right outside.

Greek-Style Green Beans - Fasolakia Ladera

This is a delicious vegetarian “stew” that can be served as a side dish or as a main, as we did on the last night of our visit. It was a treat to have this lighter supper after feasting for three days although, speaking for myself, I sorta stuffed myself on this meal as well. 🙂 I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of this year’s version.  In looking around at the various recipes, I learned that “ladera” means braised in olive oil, hence a larger quantity of oil than you might expect in a recipe like this. With all those recipes in mind and some advice from a Greek friend, I decided to make this dish as follows. It is HIGHLY adaptable, however, so have at it! Once finished, serve with slices of feta cheese and a nice crusty bread. A dry rose on the darker, richer side goes really well.

Margaux says . . . 

I’ve been wanting to make this since my friend Beth from Tasty Yummies told me about it a few years ago.  She even wrote a blog post about it after we talked about it, and I just completely forgot to make it!  I’m kicking myself now for forgetting, and I’m very happy that Aunt Suzy brought it up again, because I TOTALLY love it.  This is like comfort food, for summer.  I will be making this often, I think.  Beth’s recipe has beef or lamb in it, and I think that would be a nice way to try it when the weather gets cooler.  Speaking of the weather, it worked out perfectly that I planned to make this when I did, because it got unseasonably cool here in Chicago, perfect weather for eating stew.  I actually had to wear a lightweight sweater today!  In August!  So weird.

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 pounds runner beans (also called pole or Romano), ends snapped off and snapped in half if especially long

2-3 carrots, cut in half length-wise then sliced in 1/2-inch chunks

1/2 cup olive oil

1-2 onions, sliced then each slice cut in quarters

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups of chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano

3-4 large round ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped (or 1 large can diced tomatoes)

4-5 whole allspice berries, optional

1 cup of water

3 large potatoes, cut in 2-inch chunks (if using russets, peel, if using white or gold, no need to peel)

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. When shimmering turn heat up to medium high and add the onions. Sauté for 5 or so minutes, till translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, stir and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add most of the parsley and mint and all of the oregano. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beans, the carrots, the tomatoes and allspice berries, if using, and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the water and press all ingredients down into the juices so they are just covered. Cover the pot, bring to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the potatoes and press all ingredients down into the juices again. Bring back to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. While the potatoes are cooking combine a few tablespoons of parsley, 2 tablespoons of mint and the minced garlic. When the dish is finished, stir this herb/garlic mixture into the pot. Turn into a serving bowl or just serve right out of the pot!

COOKS’ NOTES:

Aunt Suzy: The quantities of ingredients are what I would call guidelines. I’ve seen many recipes that use dill in addition to other herbs and many that use solely parsley. The oregano is my addition. I saw a couple of recipes that said “DO NOT forget to add 1 teaspoon cinnamon at the end”. I asked a Greek friend for advice, and he suggested the carrots and said he adds zucchini when he adds the potatoes (but had not heard of the cinnamon :-)).  If you cannot find the flat, longer type of beans called for here, you can use “regular” green beans. I see runner beans occasionally here in the farmers markets, but have not seen in supermarkets in Minnesota. There are versions of this dish that include meat – beef, veal or lamb – but I really like this as a vegetarian meal.

Margaux: I added about a teaspoon of salt when I added the potatoes, because I really don’t like potatoes cooked without salt.  Then I added pepper at the end with the herb/garlic mixture.  Also, I used regular beans and it turned out great!

Caldo Verde - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

A soup similar to this was posted by a bunch of people on Pinterest recently, which I made and liked a lot. Then Aunt Suzy emailed me this recipe, which was very similar but looked better. Instead of using cream to make it a creamy soup, you puree some of the potatoes, which I like better. I waited a few weeks to try this one out so that we didn’t over do the potato-greens-sausage soup around here, and I’m so glad I got around to making this! It is fantastic…blows the other soup out of the soup pot. Ha! And my husband, Jason, raved about it as well, claiming it to have the “best broth ever.” He’s really good about complimenting my cooking, but this was more emotion than he usually shows about food. So I put this one in the “win” column and will be definitely making it again!

I think that you can switch out different kinds of greens/sausage/potatoes to suit your likes. I made it with spicy Italian sausage because that’s what I had on hand, instead of the chorizo. Next time I’ll make it with the chorizo probably, but the spicy Italian was still good. I prefer Yukon gold potatoes, but russet would be fine, too. And as for the greens, I would stick with tougher, bitter greens like collard, or any type of kale. I don’t think spinach or chard would hold up as well. The main thing that made this soup stand out to me was the process of taking out part of the potatoes and pureeing them to make the broth thick and creamy.

Aunt Suzy says..

As Margaux mentioned, our initial foray into the greens/potato/sausage soup arena was a recipe we saw on Pinterest that we both made exactly according to the recipe, me with chicken and Margaux with pork sausage.  Then my guy Randy shared this recipe with us from Cook’s Illustrated, which we tried shortly thereafter. I’ve made the Pinterest one with regular kale and unpeeled russets and another time with Lacinato kale, unpeeled Yukon Golds and fully cooked Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s. And then I’ve made this recipe exactly as specified.  All are really good, but I think this one is the winner.  Pureeing some of the potatoes with olive oil creates an emulsion that makes for a very silky texture without dairy. Today, I’ve made one of our favorite stewsand Randy asked me if it included sausage – hehe, guess we’ve had enough sausage around here for a while.

Caldo Verde
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

¼ cup EV olive oil

12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (fully cooked, not fresh Mexican)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

4 cups chicken stock or broth

4 cups water

1 pound collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, optional

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook for a few minutes till translucent. Add the garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to a bowl or measuring cup.  Set aside. Add collard greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to solids/broth mixture that was set aside. Place in blender jar (or use immersion blender) and process until very smooth and emulsified, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar, if using, into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Cook’s Notes: If you live near a Whole Foods, Amylu Chicken Chorizo in a 9-ounce package works really well with this and the 9-ounces seemed like enough.  You can try with or without the vinegar. AS didn’t use it and Margaux did.

shrimp with feta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I recently got together again with friends Ruth, Toni and Velma for an afternoon of cooking.  Ruth found this delicious and easy recipe from The Contessa and we all agreed we should try it.  I must say it was very easy to put together, but then again, there were four of us in the kitchen sharing cooking duties.  We loved the beet and fennel salad we had last time we got together so much we served it again.  The roasted shrimp dish went really well with crusty bread, a nice Pinot Grigio and a sunny July early evening on the deck!

I recommend you watch this video of Ina Garten making this dish.  It illustrates just how how easy it is and shows how to make the fresh breadcrumbs.  I think it’s hilarious that she adds way more of certain ingredients than she specifies in the recipe like the wine, olive oil, parsley and lemon zest.  I like the way she cooks by feel vs. measuring.  🙂  We’ve adapted the recipe slightly, which you could easily do as well. I will also mention it says on the Food Network site that this dish serves 4.  I think that would be 4 very hearty eaters – four of us dined very well and still there were leftovers.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons EV olive oil, divided
1 1/2 – 2 cups medium-diced fennel (2 medium bulbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (unoaked)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod, Anisette or Sambuca
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 – 1 1/4 pound (16 to 20 per pound) raw shrimp, unpeeled and deveined
5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 lemons, one cut into wedges

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10 or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat, until the fennel is tender and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute till fragrant. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, salt and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the shrimp in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the skillet. Scatter the crumbled feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Notes on ingredients:

SHRIMP: The original recipe called for peeled, deveined shrimp with tails on.  We used unpeeled, deveined and cooked with the shell on thinking that it would add more flavor.  While this makes it more challenging to eat, it insures that the shrimp will be juicy and succulent.  I thought the specified amount of shrimp was a lot and will try this in the future with just one pound of either extra-large, as called for, or large shrimp.

PERNOD: None of us has Pernod or Anisette in our liquor cabinet, and we didn’t want to spend the $30 on a bottle just for a tablespoon.  Luckily Ruth had Sambuca. We had our doubts given the sweetness of that liqueur, but it worked beautifully.

FETA:  Try to find a solid piece of feta for this dish and crumble it by hand.  Crumbled feta comes packaged with cellulose powder or other anti-caking agents which affect how it melts.  I recommend French sheep’s milk feta, if you can find it, for it’s soft texture and great melting properties.  The Greek feta recommended by Ina is also good.

BREAD CRUMBS: We used a french bread that was on the softer side for the bread crumbs.  We processed it with the crust, which didn’t break down as finely as the inside of the bread.  I liked the texture this added to the bread crumb topping.

Chickpea Stew with Chicken: Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux and I are on the lookout for good recipes using shredded chicken.  I was looking for something new to make but that would be fast and easy on a busy Sunday. I love all the flavors in this stew, so thought I’d give it a whirl.  It was a hit!  Randy and I both agreed that I should double the recipe next time – we barely had a small lunch portion left after eating.  We served it with a salad, baguette and some a Pinot Gris wine.  Since spring is seeming like it is not going to show up this year, this warming dish was especially welcome on a cold and snowy day.

Margaux says . . .

This dish was a hit in our house, too!  We always love bean stews, so I knew it would probably get gobbled up.  At Aunt Suzy’s suggestion, I made a double recipe, and I’m glad I did.  It was the perfect amount for dinner and then lunch for Desi and me the next day.

When I made this, I misread the recipe and used bone-in chicken, and it was really good, if  a little greasy.  I just skimmed as much of the extra fat off the top as I could.  This would be a great recipe to use for leftover shredded chicken, I would just use chicken broth instead of water, and add the chicken at the end with the red peppers, etc.  It would also be good vegetarian, eliminating the chicken altogether.  In that case, I would maybe use more red pepper.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

4 cups water or chicken stock or a combination

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Juice of ½ lemon, or more

1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to low and let oil cool slightly; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.  Add the liquid, the reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat  and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken.  Add the chicken, red peppers, half the herbs and lemon juice; simmer for a couple of minutes until heated through. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more of the herbs.

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

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This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).