September 26, 2019
Well here it is, the end of September already. I’m told that Autumn in upon us. However, as is usually the case in Virginia, no one bothered to forward the “it’s Fall now” memo to the weather department. Yup…we’re still baking around here with temps due to hit the lower 90’s this weekend. I know some folks are just thrilled with this turn of events, but ya’ll know that I really do not like hot weather. Not. One. Bit. So I’m going to have to take comfort in the fact that it will eventually cool off. Patience is a virtue. One good thing happening right now is zucchini is plentiful. I have a fantastic recipe to share with you today that will help you use up some of that delicious squash: Zucchini-Basil Pistou. When I first came across it on one of my favorite cooking blogs, Once Upon a Chef, I was certainly curious “What exactly is a Pistou?” I’m familiar with Pesto, but not Pistou. Turns out that a Pistou is somewhat similar to it’s Italian cousin Pesto. The main difference being that Pistou, a Provençal cold sauce, is traditionally made with garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. It does not contain the nuts found in pestos. The word “pistou” is an Occitan word which means “pounded” , which is pretty much what happens to that basil. This particular Pistou I’m sharing today contains zucchini (Yay!) in addition to the traditional ingredients. Oh and it also has a bit of lemon juice thrown in to brighten it up.
This seemingly simple sauce is an absolutely amazing flavor enhancer! I tell you it makes everything better! You can put it on pasta, spread it on bread or over crackers, add it to scrambled eggs, serve it with grilled chicken or fish, add a dollop to dress up your veggies or just eat it straight out of the bowl. This recipe originally comes from Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, so I guess it is no surprise how mouth waveringly delicious it is! And here is the cherry on top of this recipe – you can make up a big batch while your zucchini garden is overflowing and then just freeze it! It keeps for 3 months when frozen in an airtight container. Yup – you can be savoring the scrumptious taste of the last hot and hazy days of summer well into the winter when it will (supposedly) be cold. This Pistou is easy to make, so what are you waiting for? Break out your food processor and you’ll have this tasty sauce done is just a few whirrs!
recipe from: Once Upon a Chef
- 1-1/3 pounds zucchini (2-3 zucchini, depending on size)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish if desired
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
First you will need to core the zucchini to remove the inner seeds. To do this cut the zucchini in half and then slice off the ends so that each piece will stand flat. Cut off the outer flesh of the zucchini, leaving the inner seed cores behind. Discard the cores or save for soup. Cut the remaining zucchini into 1-inch pieces.
In a small saucepan, combine the zucchini pieces with the olive oil and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the basil leaves, stir, and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt. Pulse until you have a chunky purée. Transfer the pistou to a small bowl and serve warm.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The pistou can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.
Zucchini-Basil Pistou brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaanjay.com)
Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini-Basil Pistou:
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale
Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor
September 26, 2014
I am so excited to tell you about these Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls. They are absolutely one of my favourite discoveries this year. And let me tell you with a list of ingredients that includes fresh spinach and basil, creamy ricotta and mozzarella cheese, savoury grated Parmesan Reggiano, moist, tender chicken breast, crispy panko breading and zesty Arrabiatta sauce, how could this dish go wrong? The answer is simple.. it doesn’t! It not only delivers on flavour, but it is also actually pretty low in calories – that is if you manage to refrain from eating the whole pan in one sitting, which I’ll admit is a bit of a challenge. These little devils are that delicious!
And they are pretty easy to make. Though I will say, they are a bit “fiddly”. And if you are freaked out by handling raw chicken, you might have to take a few deep breaths (ie. glasses of wine or shots of whisky…depending on how serious your phobia is) because you are going to have to get a bit messy. Basically you take a flatened chicken breast, place the creamy spinach/ricotta mixture on top and then roll it up. Yes, it will try to sneak out of the ends, you’re going to have to be expecting that little trick and keep heading it off at the pass and herding it back into that roll of chicken. Then you take that roll, dip it in the egg whites and roll it in a panko/Parmesan Reggiano breading. So yeah, a bit messy. But just you wait…it is so worth it. Once you’ve wrangled all of those chicken rolls into the baking dish, just pop them in the oven and you just won’t believe how wonderfully they bake up. They are moist and tender on the inside with layers of gooey ricotta spinach all wrapped up in a golden crunchy panko crust on the outside. You’ll be tempted to chow down on them right now, but show some restraint! You aren’t finished with this dish….no indeed. Next you take some of your favorite marinara sauce – you know us by now, we went for super spicy Arrabiatta – and ladle it over the top. Wait! There’s more. Then you top it with some big slices of fresh mozzarella. Remember, I said fresh! Not those little shredded plastic shards. Pop it back into the oven. Once the marinara sauce and mozzarella are piping hot and bubbling, take it out of the oven and sprinkle a bit of fresh basil over the top.
I am telling you, it is to die for! Creamy, dreamy, gooey, crunchy, cheesy, zesty bliss. You’ve got to make a big pan of these Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls today!
Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls
recipe slightly adapted from: Pinch of Yum
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (8 4-ounce pieces)
- 1 cup Italian style Panko
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, divided
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 clove minced garlic and olive oil for sauteing
- ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup beaten egg whites
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of your favourite marinara sauce (you know spicy us…we chose Arrabiatta!)
- fresh basil for topping
Prep the chicken: Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and pound the pieces until they are thin (for quick cooking) and have expanded in surface area (for more filling). Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan Reggiano cheese and set aside.
Prep the filling: Chop the spinach and saute it with the garlic and just a drizzle of olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until just barely wilted. Combine the sautéed spinach with the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and 2-3 tablespoons of the egg whites. Place the remaining egg whites in a separate shallow bowl and set aside.
Assemble the chicken: Oil the bottom of a large baking dish and preheat the oven to 450º F. Place one piece of chicken on a flat working surface. Put a spoonful of ricotta-spinach filling right in the middle and roll the chicken up so that the edges meet to form a “seam”. Dip the entire chicken roll in egg whites, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Place in a baking dish, seam side down. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of chicken, taking care not to crowd the pieces in the dish. If the sides of the rolls are not touching they will be crispier. Bake for 25 minutes.
Finishing touches: After 25 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through and browned on the top. Cover the chicken with the marinara sauce and slices of fresh Mozzarella. Bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melting. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )