Monday, April 28, 2014

Parmesan Chicken with Pastina and Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

My wife loves chicken parmesan, that classic red-sauced dish from her childhood. I am not as much of a fan of chicken with red sauce, although hers, I must admit, is delicious. However, I tend to like my Italian-style chicken a little more light and lemony. This recipe for parmesan chicken is just such a dish. I experimented with a "nursery food" noodle dish on the side and wished I hadn't, although Jeannene loved it. This pastina recipe seems to me to be a variation on my cousin's garbage skillet, which is whatever leftovers are in the house mixed with eggs and scrambled. Great for breakfast, but not so much with a nice dinner. Perhaps I did it wrong? I can't remember where I got the recipe, but I include it here because the wife thought it was outstanding and some of you might agree. Me, next time I would just make the star pasta with some butter and lemon stirred in once it was cooked. For the salad, what I had on hand was radicchio and romaine and that was a great blend. I, personally, would probably skip the parmesan on the salad next time, but shaved parm seemed like a good idea at the time. The dressing is simply stellar on its own and the parmesan, to me, muddied the flavor. That's largely my personal bias against "translucent" foods mixed with "opaque" foods, though. I don't like my baked brie to touch my fruit, either. If you're trying to cut fat, another great dressing my mom always made when I was a kid is a simple blend of fresh lemon juice with a little bit of honey stirred in until it dissolves.

Parmesan Chicken
4 thin chicken cutlets                                           1/2 c. dry breadcrumbs with Italian herbs
1/2 c. flour                                                           1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt                                                             1 tbsp. butter
A good grinding of pepper                                  1 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Mix flour with salt and pepper. Mix bread crumbs with parmesan. Dredge chicken in flour, then dip in egg, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side. Serves 2-4. 

1/2 c. pastina (star-shaped pasta)                      2 tsp. butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten                                         2 tsp. grated parmesan
2 tsp. butter                                                        Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the pastina in salted, boiling water until cooked al dente, according to package directions. Remove from heat and add egg, allowing the hot pasta to cook it. Add the rest. Serves 2.

Lemon Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 lemon                                                 1/4 tsp. sea salt (Maldon flaked salt is nice)
1/4 c. really good olive oil                                 A good grinding of pepper

Whisk everything together well before tossing with greens. Makes enough for 3 or 4 salads. 

Jeannene had hinted very heavily that she would not object one tiny bit should I start using our bread machine more and she always likes to have good bread with her pasta, so I made a loaf of potato bread to accompany the dinner. I used to make it a lot when the boys were little, but have fallen out of the habit. It was delicious all hot and crisp-crusted from the bread machine. Here's the recipe:

Easy Machine Potato Bread
1 1/3 c. water                                                   3 tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes
3 tbsp. butter                                                   3 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar                                             2 tsp. bread machine yeast
1 tsp. salt

Put ingredients in bread machine in order, creating a little well in the flour for the yeast, and run machine on the setting for a large, sweet loaf. This makes excellent toast the next morning. 

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