Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grilled Chicken Wing Challenge


Minty Lime Chicken Wings
Maybe I've been watching too much "Master Chef" on Fox. I keep thinking of dinner by star ingredients followed by the phrase "3-ways".  No matter how self-conscious and inadequate my fellow home-cooks trials on television make me feel, I can't help but get sucked into the competition. I find myself craving challenges in the kitchen - even if they are only me against myself. 

Fourth of July is on my brain, as it seems everyone else's - which makes it difficult to manage a fashion line by day, since everyone seems to be somwhere else in their heads. But at home the ideas are flowing, the inspiration is here. 

Today I'll experiment with grilled chicken wings "3-ways". Hopefully you'll be making larger pieces of chicken, on a real outdoor grill. I happen to be all alone in my apartment, grill pan hot, with a small package of 6 wings. But it's all in the seasoning, however you plan to kick it with your chicken.

I can't go all out on all out on all 3 versions, because yeah, as you can see, I had a hard day at work. There's just not time for 3 crazy inventive ideas. If this was a Master Chef challenge, I would only have 90 minutes anyhow. 
Chicken ready to grill
So I broke my ideas down into easy, intermediate and advanced. Not only does this make it immediately easier for you to choose which to try, but I can get them all done in time for reruns of Modern Family.

Grilled Buffalo Wings


EASY / SPICY:
Hardly any prep work, few ingredients and will appeal to anyone who loves buffalo wings.

Grilled Wings with Buffalo Sauce
Prep time: 5-10 min
Cook time: 30-40 min
Servings: 2-3

2 lb chicken wings
2 T canola oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

2 T butter
½  C Franks Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Celery & Blue Cheese Dressing for serving

1. Toss wings with oil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Grill for about 20-30 minutes, until falling apart or temp reaches 170 in the fattest part of the wing.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add hot sauce and heat through. Set aside.

4. Toss cooked wings in sauce and serve with blue cheese dressing and celery.

*Wings may also be baked for approx. 40 minutes at 425F.

*Or, you may use a grill pan over medium heat and cook wings 7 minutes on each side (covered with tinfoil) to create grill marks. Then, bake for 30 minutes at 425F.

Minty Lime Chicken Wings

INTERMEDIATE SKILL / MILD (NO SPICE) :
Requires fresh mint and juicing limes, but otherwise pretty easy. Marinated wings cook up juicy, and the hint of honey and dijon give them a tangy sweetness.

Minty Lime Chicken Wings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 min
Servings 2 - 3

2 lbs whole chicken wings

1/2 C lime juice
¼ C canola oil
1/2 C chopped fresh spearmint leaves
1/4 tsp kosher salt
8 grinds pepper

4 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard

1. In a chopper, food processor, or blender, place lime juice, oil, mint, salt and pepper.  Pulse until blended.

2. Rinse and pat dry wings. Place in a plastic bag and add ½ C of the juice mixture. Marinate for 30 minutes or more (up to overnight).

3. For the remaining ¾ C juice mixture in the processor, add honey and mustard and pulse until blended. Set aside.

4. Grill for about 20-30 minutes, until falling apart or temp reaches 170 in the fattest part of the wing.

5. Toss cooked wings with honey-mustard juice mixture to serve. Pour some of the mixture over the top of the wings on a platter and garnish with fresh mint.

*Wings may also be baked for approx. 40 minutes at 425F.

*Or, you may use a grill pan over medium heat and cook wings 7 minutes on each side (covered with tinfoil) to create grill marks. Then, bake for 30 minutes at 425F.

Chicken Wings Makhani


ADVANCED / MEDIUM SPICY :
I love the Indian dish Paneer (or Chicken) Makhani. It's a sweet and mildly spicy curry in a creamy tomato sauce. Use the spices as a rub or marinade for the chicken before grilling, and use the balance in the curry sauce. Sour cream works well here instead of milk to keep the sauce thick enough to stick to the chicken. You'll want to lick your plate, it's so delicious!

Chicken Wings Makhani
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 min
Servings: 2-3

2 lbs whole chicken wings
1 T spice mix
2 T canola oil

Spice Mix:
3/4 tsp each:
ground ginger
garlic powder
turmeric powder
cayenne or Indian chili powder
ground cumin
cround coriander
kosher salt

2 T unsalted butter
Remaining spice mix
3 C chopped fresh tomatoes
4 T lemon juice
2 T sour cream
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

1. Mix spices in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Rinse and pat dry wings. Place in a plastic bag with oil and 1 T spice mix. Shake to coat. Marinate 30 minutes – 1 hour.

3. Grill wings for about 20-30 minutes, until falling apart or temp reaches 170 in the fattest part of the wing.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add spices and stir to dissolve.

5. Add tomatoes, stir, cover and simmer until they break down – about 10 minutes.

6. Add lemon juice, sour cream and cilantro. Simmer loosely covered 20 minutes to thicken the sauce.

7. Serve on a platter topped with sauce, fresh chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.


*Wings may also be baked for approx. 40 minutes at 425F.

*Or, you may use a grill pan over medium heat and cook wings 7 minutes on each side (covered with tinfoil) to create grill marks. Then, bake for 30 minutes at 425F.

 


 

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vermont Goat Meets Her Nutty Indian Honey


This log of cheese represents my marriage. Very simply, I am from Vermont, and so is this chèvre. It's topped with a sweet, caramel flavored honey that we picked up in my husband's cousin's organic shop in Calcutta. Local Indian honey. The two flavors are joined by a nuttiness that enhances both, otherwise known as a very good sense of humor!

I was inspired to concoct this cheese log for a gathering of our very multinational neighbors. We like to call it a U.N. meeting. Maybe it made me more conscious of what each of us brings to the table. The U.N. crew loved the Vermont-meets-India cheese - just the right mix of creamy, sweet, salty, crunchy and nutty.


Goat Cheese with Honey and  Almonds
1 log of creamy goat chèvre, such as the 10.5oz Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery Fresh Goat Cheese Classic Chèvre
¼ C – 1/3 C (handful) of toasted almond slices
2 T – 3 T good quality honey
Sea Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Place about 1/3 of the almonds in a line on a serving platter. Set the cheese on top. Sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle the cheese with 1 T of honey. Press the rest of the almonds onto the cheese.
Drizzle a little more honey over the log and top with a pinch or two of sea salt.
Serve with Melba Toast, thick wheat crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Pink Drink: Watermelon & Mint Juice

It's Monday. The weekend is over. We're back to work.

Which is exactly why we need to talk about next weekend. July 4th.

I know you're thinking about it already. You're planning. You're plotting. You're thinking about food. Babecue food. Food with vibrant colors like red, white and blue. Food bursting with salty juices, served on toasty buns, covered in condiments and chased by cold beverages.

Cold beverages. Yes.

And nothing says summer like a crisp wedge of watermelon, does it? If you'd like a break from sticky fingers and a stained white shirt, try blending up the pulp for a refreshing pink drink. You could spike it with liquor if you like, but it makes an even better hangover helper.


Hot Pink Watermelon & Mint Juice
recipe for one 8-10 oz serving, increase accordingly

1-1/2 C seedless watermelon chunks/juices
3 medium sized mint leaves
1 grind of black pepper
tiny pinch of salt
1/2 tsp honey

Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth, about 20 seconds. Pour over ice and garnish with a mint leaf. 

If you have an immersion (stick) blender, you can use the plastic cup that came with it, or a pyrex measuring cup, for one quick-blended serving.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grammy's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Sorry, can't cut it yet! It's going to a party later....
I don't really think I'm supposed to share my grandma's recipes. I'm not sure she would have approved. But, she might just be smiling if she knew how many people would end up enjoying it.

Strawberry rhubarb pie doesn't have to be rocket science. It doesn't need cinnamon, or tapioca, and certainly not eggs. I'm sure there are all sorts of variations out there that are just excellent. But I'm no baker, and I barely have any sweet tooth, so why over-think something as simple as pie? This classic, old-school, authentic, home-making grandma recipe has done just fine by me every time I've served it.

Not everyone will like it. Don't be offended if they hate it. Some people don't appreciate the tart flavor of the rhubarb or the sour lemon. It's super sweet, too. So if you like sweet, if you like tart, if you like fruit pies, why not give this one a try? There are no fancy ingredients, and hardly any prep work, so what do you have to lose?

Grammy's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Dough for a 2-crust pie
(I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, or box mix)

1 C sliced strawberries
3 C chopped rhubarb (1/2” pieces)
1 T – 3T lemon juice (less if the strawberries are sweet, more if they seem bland)
1-1/2 C sugar (less if strawberries are very sweet)
1/8 tsp salt
¼ C flour
2 T butter, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 425F, with top rack placed in the center of the oven.

1. Mix together strawberries, rhubarb, lemon, sugar, salt and flour.

2. Lay one piecrust in the bottom of a 8” or 9” pie plate so it hangs over the edge a bit. Pour in the filling. Arrange small bits of butter on top of the filling.

3. Lay the 2nd pie crust over the pie and crimp the edges together. Seal them good, this one’s a bubbler! Poke holes in crust with a knife. (And if you forgot the butter in all the excitement, shove the small bits through the holes. I pretty much end up doing this every time.)

4. Place some tinfoil or an old cookie sheet on the bottom oven rack to take care of the boil over if the pie leaks. Cover the crust edges with tinfoil to prevent over-browning, if desired.

5. Bake pie at 425F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake another 40 minutes until pie is bubbling up through the holes.

6. Cool for at least an hour before cutting. The longer you wait, the thicker the juicy filling will be.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Latin-Inspired Rock Shrimp and Avocado Salad Rolls


I looove lobster rolls. I loooove looove Luke's Lobster rolls. Which is why I was overcome with joy the other day when I checked my NYC Food Truck list on Twitter, to realize their truck "Nauti" was parked RIGHT DOWNSTAIRS! I was so happy I couldn't have a normal human-being type conversation with anyone, with any logic whatsoever, until I got my lobster roll back to my desk. Mmmmm!

But, I realize that not all of us can enjoy a superb, juicy, buttery, foodgasm-worthy lobster roll fresh off the boat from Maine all the time.

In our apartment, there is a strict "no killing in the house" rule. And if you've been reading a while, you know that my husband is vegetarian & Hindu in upbringing (animals are to be respected as equals). I cook mostly vegetarian. We've tried to be more vegan-like. Truth is, when the mood strikes, I still cook fish, chicken, or whatever I want. But there is one rule - probably the only real rule my husband has ever insisted on. No killing in the house!

Since I'm not to prep lobster in the house, and the pre-cooked tails are terribly expensive, I fill the void with shrimp. I'm finding lately that wild rock shrimp have a more lobster-y, authentic, saltwater-ish flavor than regular farmed shrimp.

I had sautéed some rock shrimp last week for a cashew stir-fry, and had a bunch leftover. I happened to have some nice soft whole-wheat hot-dog buns around, so I decided to make the shrimp into a cool, refreshing salad. I tossed in some cucumber for crunch, avocado for buttery flavor, lime and cilantro to compliment avocado and brighten the flavors.

On the buttered, toasted bun, the shrimp salad almost meets the "I'm-craving-a-lobster-roll" requirements. The latin-inspired flavors give it a personality of it's own, making each bite a "wow-this-s**t-is-good" in it's own rite. And we've created a whole new thing to crave.



Rock Shrimp and Avocado Salad Rolls

2 servings


1 C rock shrimp, seasoned (salt, pepper, adobo or garlic) & cooked, roughly chopped

½ C cucumber, diced

½ C avocado, cubed

1 – 2 T fresh lime juice

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Cayenne pepper

2 T light mayo

¼ C cilantro, chopped



Hot dog buns, buttered and toasted



Toss shrimp, cucumber and avocado with lime juice, salt, pepper, cayenne and mayo to taste. Stir in cilantro and refrigerate until ready to eat.



Grill or toast some buttered hot dog buns and stuff with salad. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with fries (or chips) and pickles on the side.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Broiled Salmon with Mint-Pea Purée over Pea & Cashew Couscous


I meant to post this deliciousness a week ago. Or yesterday, even. Woops. I was feeling a bit anti-computer-ish. I get my fill of screen-viewing at work - and this was my first 5 day week in a while. The weather is nice, and I'm itching to go outside. Getting back on the yoga schedule, too. Plus my husband travels for work all week, so I don't have anyone to immediately impress with my cooking each day - and more importantly - no one to help me clean up from my kitchen experiments.

Excuses, excuses. That's me.


It's probably too late to give you this recipe for a father's day meal idea. Better late than never, though, right? Maybe you'll think about it for next weekend. Or maybe you have a bag of frozen peas, and a whole bunch of overgrown mint plants (like I do) and you can throw it together right now!

That was the inspiration behind this one - my out-of-control mint plant. I made double-use of the peas and mint in both parts of this dish, in order to cut my work in half. I'm kind of on a pesto kick right now, but I'm not fond of it on salmon. So, I blended the peas, onions, mint, olive oil and lemon like a thick pesto to top the salmon. It was flavorful enough to accent the fish, but not so heavy as to hide the delicate salmon flavor.
 
I used a rich, deep pink fillet of Wild Copper River Sockeye Salmon. I always choose wild salmon, since farm-fed fish are not as high in omega-3's, and just generally live in crowded conditions that don't do them or us much good. The best are usually Alaskan too - considered rather sustainable, as it is not over-fished. But there may not always be so many options, so use any salmon you like, cooked as you like. I broiled mine to keep a bit more concentrated flavor, and a bit dry, but I usually prefer poaching (covered in shallow water) because it's the least stinky method.



Broiled Sockeye Salmon with Mint-Pea Purée over Pea & Cashew Couscous
2 generous servings
approx. 30 minutes total time
Key ingredients: Salmon, dried couscous, peas, 1 small onion, mint leaves, 2 lemons and raw cashews.

Salmon:
2 (6-8oz) fillets of Salmon, preferably wild, and center-cut
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T olive oil
sea salt & black pepper

Peas & Onions:
1 T olive oil
1-1/4 C frozen peas (or fresh english peas, but pre-cooking is suggested)
¼ C chopped onion

Purée:
Pea & onion mixture
1 T fresh lemon juice
2T fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
sea salt & black pepper

Couscous:
¾ C water
½ C whole wheat couscous
Pea & onion mixture
¼ C fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
¼ C raw cashews
sea salt & black pepper

1. Heat oven to Broil.

2. For the salmon: cover a sheet-pan with tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil. Place a few lemon slices on the pan as a base for each fillet – this keeps the skin from sticking to the pan and makes it easy to lift the cooked fish with a spatula. Rinse and pat-dry the salmon fillets and place on the pan over the lemon slices. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

Place salmon 2-3” from broiler. Time depends on the type of broiler and thickness of the fish. Anywhere from 5-15 minutes – so watch carefully. When salmon is cooked it will flake easily with a fork at the center.
*I recommend cooking the salmon after everything else is mostly ready, so you can keep an eye on the broiler. Plus, it ensures the fish will be nice and hot to serve.

3. For the peas and onions: in a small saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté, covered, for about 3 minutes. Add peas and cook another 3-5 minutes until tender. Remove peas and onions to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

4. For the couscous: bring ¾ C water to a boil in the saucepan. Add couscous and cook as per package directions (about 2 minutes simmering, and 5 minutes covered away from the heat). Before serving, add half of the pea & onion mixture, ¼ C lemon juice, mint, cashews, salt and pepper. Fluff together.

5. For the purée: place the remaining half of the pea & onion mixture to a small food processor or chopper bowl. Add 1T lemon juice, 2T mint and a pinch of salt & pepper. Puree together, scraping sides occasionally. Add more oil or lemon if desired. Set aside.

7.  Serving: Reheat couscous if needed, and divide it onto the plates. Place salmon fillets over the couscous and top with a generous dollop of pea purée. Garnish with mint leaves.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photos from Gujarat

A curious boy who followed us in our 3 ceremonies throughout the village
 Our first stop in India was the state of Gujarat. To complete our marriage and avoid basically being "cursed" in our lives together, to put it simply, we had to travel around Gujarat to ancestor's temples to complete ceremonies. Our home-base was the more modern city of Ahmedabad where we enjoyed the comforts of the familiar Marriott and the flavors of a very different McDonalds.

View from the Marriott... looks like a graveyard for motorized things. Or a swamp that dried up with cars inside.

Gujarat is mostly vegetarian, so McDonald's conforms with a huge veg menu
We then traveled 4 hours and got lost several times to stay a night in chaotic Rajkot.  Only for a few hours sleep.

Sunset, somwhere along the journey between Ahmedabad and Rajkot
On our trip to Morbi, Amit's father's home-village, I had to dress in a red Sari as we visited 5 different temple locations, in 105 degree sun, for various ceremonies I can really tell you nothing about, since I have no idea what I was doing. Basically, we were tied together at the wedding 2 years ago, and had to be untied through a series of exercises in various temples, under the guidance of family and resident locals. Whatever it was, my in-laws are much more relaxed now about our union, which was the whole point of the torture we endured. 

Part of a ceremony in the Mehta family temple, built by a great-great-grandfather guided by a dream
View Photos on FLICKR.


Eating in Kolkata

I can't say many good things about my trip to India. There was a lot of riding in cars, being sick, being too hot, sitting on couches waiting, waiting far too long to pee, and being completely skeeved out. We did, however, manage to eat a lot of good meals. I can't say I appreciated them fully at the time, due to whatever too-hot or too-sick to eat condition I was in, but they were indeed good. And since this blog is more about food than anything else, I won't bore you with stories about the rest of the experience.

Maharaj and his assistant, preparing ingredients on the dining room floor
We didn't eat out at restaurants much. It was much safer (hygienically), and more delicious, to eat right at the family's apartment.  This is the house that my husband grew up in, along with his cousins and their families. In Indian culture, in case you are not aware, extended families stay together. Basically, the men, or brothers of a name, stay together, and whomever they marry moves in with the conglomerate. So the households tend to be very large, thus requiring the aid of service-people.


So we had Maharaj to cook for us day and night. It's a noun, a title, or a name to call him, meaning 'cook'. I don't think we know his real name, but he's more than happy to be endearingly called "Maharaj". He's pretty awesome. Awesome enough for families to bring him along to Dubai or Singapore on their vacations, and for a world-renound temple in London to offer him a job as a chef (which he graciously declined). I'm not sure of all the names of the dishes he produced, but he can produce pretty much anything. Samosas, dum aloo, bhindi masala, pav bhaji, and even Chinese fried rice to name a few. And he crafted everything to my milder tastes, considering I was new in the house and he cared very much that each and every one of us ate a hearty meal and enjoyed it. He even turned the pav bhaji, which I dislike, into a grilled sandwich with a side of creamy corn soup for me. It was the most amazing Indian-meet-American plate I've ever had. It was unbelievable the amount of dishes Maharaj could turn out for 15 people with only 2 burners to cook on in a 4'x8' kitchen. And, with no formal training. Kind of reminds me of New York.

On Monday, our fifth day in Kolkata, I was still pretty worn out from stomach problems due to an abundance of rich wedding-reception foods from Saturday. The first time with food outside the house, and I got sick, along with a few other family members. I was also a little overwhelmed by the constant Indian food. So Amit and I escaped to the western-style mall of shops and restaurants down the street, to search for lunch.

Logo via Facebook
We were looking for the food court, where they have a Pizza Hut, Subway, McCain French Fry window, a Gyro stand and many other choices. But this glowing, clean, seated restaurant called Spaghetti Kitchen beckoned us, which I mentioned in my last post. It's an Indian chain of Italian restaurants under the culinary guidance of celebrity chef Bill Marchetti. I wanted everything on the menu, including the crispy pizza or some chicken, but I went with a healthy plate of pearl-pasta with olive oil, pepper and vegetables. Amit ordered Fettuccine Genovese, covered in a velvety smooth fresh-tasting pesto. Finally, a solid meal to hopefully stay in my belly for a bit.

In the same mall (Forum Mall, on Elgin Road), we noticed a giant sign for another restaurant "Oh! Calcutta". We recognized the name from an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, so we knew we would have to go there. Wednesday, we managed to escape family obligations for a couple of hours at lunchtime to check it out. Neither of us had experienced authentic Bengali cuisine before, so it was a treat. However, Oh! Calcutta deserves it's own post, so check back later for the details.


Muri / Puri / Chat cart on Camac Street
As you might be gathering, malls are a big part of the culture in India now. This was not the case when my husband lived there over 20 years ago. Now, Indians have money, and are not afraid to spend it. They may not all have nice houses, or cars, but they certainly like shoes and accessories - and apparently European and American clothing. Outside the malls you can find one thing that hasn't changed in 20 years - street vendors selling the local snacks. My sister-in-law Anju is a huge fan of the puffed rice snack called Masala Muri. They mix the puffed rice with lime and seasonings before giving a handful to taste. The taster then directs the level of seasoning, and tomatoes, onions and sometimes potatoes are added. Anju couldn't get enough of the Muri, bringing back childhood memories. So much so that she actually got a little sick from eating it 3 times in one day.

Muri preparation outside Forum Mall

Anju's henna'd hands ready to taste more Muri, outside Vardaan Market
With all this time spent fulfilling family obligations, religious ceremonies and relative visits, we had little time to socialize. We were lucky enough to see Amit's friends briefly, who consider my mother-in-law an aunt of sorts. They are quite successful, and live a very different sort of privileged lifestyle in Calcutta. Very late on Tuesday night, they brought us for tea at the Oberoi Grand. I was grateful for the tea, but a little annoyed that nobody had informed me of this oasis of clean and calm accommodation before my arrival. Um, why aren't we staying HERE? Hello!


The following night, the cousin-brother-friend took us to the very exclusive, members-only, Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CCFC).  So exclusive, in fact, that someone must literally expire in order to open a membership slot, if I understood correctly. The complex revolves around the game fields and members enjoy not only events, but daily swimming, running, drinking and dining in a relaxed setting. We were brought here specifically because we would not be rushed through dinner in a bustling noisy restaurant. I think it is also because there was no way Amit could fight over paying the bill, as only members are allowed to sign. We did enjoy a break from Indian food, as here we happened to have Chinese noodles and Thai curries for a change.

I can't lie, I am so happy to be back in New York. I'm enjoying my familiar Fresh Direct deliveries, cooking my own meals, washing my hands 10,000 times a day, with various soaps, and using obscene amounts of Charmin with reckless abandon. I survived India, barely, and I did enjoy most of the foods we had in Kolkata. But nothing can compare to eating at home.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Campanelle with Lemon Pesto and Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n

Sorry, didn't capture this one in time... as you can see the leftovers were delicious!
I'll tell you more about my travels tomorrow. For now, all you need to know is that I'm glad to be back in my city, my bed, my shower, my couch and most of all, my kitchen.

One of the perks to living in a full-service building, is that while we're away, someone (named Mario) comes to take care of our plants. Thing is, our plants seem to like Mario better than us. Every time we leave we come back to super-plants that really haven't missed us at all. This time the mint is out-of-control, climbing into the basil's territory and even toward the A/C vent nearby. The basil grew about 10" higher, with leaves bigger than my hands.

The basil was below the window sill just two weeks ago

Sunday night I made pesto. There was really no alternative.

I've never been a big fan of pesto. I hate most of the store-bought kinds. I've made it before, but always found it too dry and pasty. However, when we were in Kolkata last week, we had some really good pasta. I was kind of sick from the local flavors, and we stopped for a break from it in the nearby westernized shopping mall.

Spaghetti Kitchen was our oasis - we didn't think we would be having any decent Italian food in India, but it was really really good. My husband ordered Fettucine Genovese, and I actually loved it. The pesto tasted like it was made with the freshest basil, like the licorice-kissed flavor of home-grown basil unlike what you get at the grocery. It was a thinner consistency also, which was not completely absorbed by the noodles. So simple, but so fresh tasting.

So when I saw the super-basil beginning to block our view at home, it was the perfect time to experiment with pesto. I added a bit of mouth-watering lemon juice to brighten the flavor and to thin the sauce. I skimped on pine nuts and cheese to make it more smooth, as well. It turned out so very good, accompanied by some crispy Gardein chick'n. Thank goodness for home-cooking at last!

Campanelle with Lemon Pesto and Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n
2 servings

Campanelle with Lemon Pesto
8oz dry Campanelle pasta
¼ C toasted pine nuts

Lemon Pesto:
2 C (packed) basil leaves
1 large clove of garlic, or 2 small
½ C – ¾ C good-quality extra virgin olive oil
¼ toasted pine nuts
¼ C grated parmesan cheese
¼ C fresh lemon juice
sea salt & black pepper to taste


Boil the Campanelle as per the package directions, about 10-11 minutes for al-dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, pack basil and garlic into the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop, scraping sides if needed.  Set to “on” and drizzle 1/2C olive oil through the chute. Scrape down and continue to blend until smooth, adding more oil if needed to get a velvety consistency.

Add pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree and adjust to taste.

Add about ½ C of the pesto, and ¼ C pine nuts to the cooked pasta and toss together. Add more as desired, but reserve about ¼ C to top chicken, or for serving.

Vegetarian Parmesan-Crusted Chick’n
4 Gardein Chick’n Filets or frozen Scallopini (thawed) (1 package)
¼ C flour
¼ C Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 T grated parmesan
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil

Combine flour, bread crumbs and parmesan in a bowl and dredge each filet.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add filets and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Remove to paper towels to drain.

Serve with pasta, topped with remaining pesto.






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