Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pasta with Pea Pesto, Pancetta and Parmesan

I'll be honest. I made this a few weeks ago and forgot to write down the recipe. Here's hoping this was close because I really, really liked it. Yay pregnancy brain!

Pasta with Pea Pesto, Pancetta and Parmesan

1 pound penne or pasta of preference
3 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil, or enough to lightly coat a small frying pan
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
3/4 cup shredded parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 (3 oz) package diced pancetta, baked on a rimmed cookie sheet for 8-10 min on 400 until crispy

How To:
Boil the pasta until al dente in salted boiling water (follow instructions.) Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, gently fry the shallots until translucent and tender over low/medium heat in a small to medium fry pan with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. No need to season them. Transfer the sauteed shallots to a food processor.

Add the peas, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and lemon zest to the food processor. Pulse until the shallots and peas have broken down. Add the 1/3 cup pine nuts and parmesan and pulse again. Then with the machine running, add the olive oil thru the shoot until well blended. You can always add a little more if you like your pesto runnier. It's a matter of preference. Adding more oil is also a great way to 'extend' the pesto if needed. Taste the pesto for salt/pepper. You'll probably need at least a pinch of salt but remember you're adding pancetta and pasta water in a minute which will salt things up also so don't go too crazy.

Add the cooked pasta and pesto to a large bowl. Pour over a little of the reserved pasta water to help the pesto and pasta get along and gently stir to combine - as much or as little you need. Remember when adding pasta water to add a little at a time. You can't take it back out:)

When you're happy with the consistency, stir in the pancetta (you can use a slotted spoon to transfer it from the pan - some of the oil from baking is nice but maybe not all of it), taste again for salt and pepper making any adjustments and serve with extra parmesan and toasted pine nuts on top if desired.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chicken with Goat Cheese, Herb and Panko Crust


Chicken with Goat Cheese, Herb and Panko Crust
* A fast and delicious favorite.
* Serves 2 or 3, depending on # of chicken breasts used.

2 large or 3 smallish chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
salt and pepper, for seasoning

4 oz goat cheese
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
couple shakes onion powder
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of kosher salt
pinch black pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (might need a little more or less depending on the size of your chicken breasts - I like a good crust though)
olive oil

How to:
Pull the chicken and goat cheese from the fridge and let sit out 20 minutes to take the chill off while you chop up the herbs and assemble the rest of your ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 and spray a medium baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and trim off any fatty or unpleasant bits. Place in your baking dish and season the tops very lightly with salt and pepper.

In a small/medium bowl, mix the goat cheese, chopped herbs, onion powder, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper with a fork. You can also add a little olive oil if you like to make it easier to spread onto the chicken, just depends on the moisture content of your goat cheese.

Divide the cheese mixture evenly over the tops of the chicken breasts, carefully spreading it out with the back of a spoon, or more easily - your hands. Next sprinkle the panko crumbs on top of the cheese mixture, lightly pressing the crumbs into the cheese so they stick and form a crust. Drizzle the tops lightly with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the foil and bake another 5 or so minutes just until the panko has lightly browned and the chicken is cooked through. Let rest a couple of minutes before serving.