Grilled Chicken with Corn and Black Bean Salsa

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This is a great summer-y meal I made this week — and it’s super easy too. I’ve revisited my “Simply Delicioso” cookbook by Ingrid Hoffman lately, and this recipe is taken from that. Most of her stuff has a Latin flair and this dish definitely has that, and it’s delicious/delicioso if I don’t say so myself. The chicken is coated in a sweet/spicy rub with brown sugar, cayenne pepper and allspice, and the corn/black bean salsa alongside is awesome and fresh. One of the best things — this is awesome cold and straight out of the fridge, so leftovers are super easy and perfect for a hot day when you don’t want to eat something hot.

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I was a little frustrated I couldn’t find jicama at my grocery store since I’ve definitely seen it there before, so I had to omit that in the salad. It would add a nice crunch I think.

TW’s Tips

  • I had a little issue when I discovered I didn’t have allspice. Oops. Quick Google search revealed I should mix nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Done. It was pretty clove-y so I’d tone that part down next time.
  • Next time I’d add a bit more heat to the rub with more cayenne.
  • Instead of cutting up plum tomatoes I used cherry tomatoes and halved them.
  • Recommend using fresh corn. I cooked it in the pasta water after that was done cooking since it was already at a boil.
  • Double the salsa recipe like I did and use half of it to make a pasta salad alongside. Just add a bit more lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Serve with a veggie alongside.
  • For leftovers, I just ended up cutting up the chicken and asparagus and threw everything into the pasta salad. Awesome leftovers.

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Ingredients

For the Salsa:

  • 1½ c. fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 1 ear of corn)
  • Fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. peeled and chopped jicama (about 8 oz.)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, finely chopped
  • ¼ c. finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 1/4 c. light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground allspice
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder (or 3 garlic cloves, finely minced)
  • Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1½ c. canola or vegetable oil

Directions

To make the salsa, fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the corn kernels and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Strain and set aside to cool. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, jicama, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine, cover with plastic wrap and set aside or refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

To make the chicken, preheat the grill to high heat. Combine the brown sugar, allspice, garlic powder (or fresh garlic), some salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Place 1 chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a flat meat mallet or rolling pin, pound until it is 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the other 3 breasts. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub them with vegetable oil. Sprinkle both sides with the spice rub and rub it into the meat. Grill the chicken until each side is marked with grill marks and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest on a serving platter for 5 minutes. Serve with the salsa.

Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups

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With the summer-like weather in New York today, this is the perfect recipe for the moment. If you need something to eat and you don’t want to heat up your kitchen — bingo. This is delicious and satisfying–it’s an awesome pasta salad with meat plus crunch from almonds and salty capers, all in a lettuce bowl. I love that the recipe calls for red and yellow pepper — I’m a huge fan of these over green. You get great flavor but it’s sweeter and less harsh than green peppers. This is a perfect meal for a picnic in the park or to take to the beach. Cool and refreshing!

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t feel like dirtying a blender, put the dressing in a Tupperware and shake it up to blend it.
  • Per above, don’t substitute green peppers. Worth it to pay a bit extra for the yellow, orange or red variety.
  • I cut the Parmesan into thick slices versus grating it, for more flavor.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded by hand (top tip: use a rotisserie chicken for ease and flavor!)
  • 1/2 slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 lb farfalle pasta, freshly cooked
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 pepper) red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 pepper) yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 12 butter lettuce or belgian endive leaves, washed (about 2 heads)
  • Shaved parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions

Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and allow to cool. In a large mixing bowl, toss together chicken, almonds, peppers, onion, parsley, and capers. Stir in pasta and enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate salad until you are ready to serve. Then, place 1 lettuce cup on a small plate and fill with chicken salad. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, garnish with shaved parmesan, and serve.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

Directions

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. Gradually add the oil while blending and blend until emulsified. Be sure to stir the mixture prior to using!

Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad

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I loooove pasta salads…that is, as long as they are mayo-free. I’ve made many versions over the years (one of my favorites is Cold Pasta Salad with Roasted Chicken, Plums, Blue Cheese and Basil) and what I love about them is their versatility. You can throw in basically any ingredient, and they’re always ready to serve, no heating needed. It’s the perfect summer food.

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I took this Neelys recipe camping for my BFF’s birthday a few weekends ago. We went to our favorite spot up in the mountains — the last stretch to get there is a 30-minute off-road adventure, which keeps away the crowds — and we basically had the place to ourselves. The first night we had some leftover remnants of smoke from the fires in Southern California, but the next day it blew off and we enjoyed the views of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. Gorg! And real pine trees in California! Now that’s camping.

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Back to the food — this pasta salad gets dressed up with asparagus, peas, cherry tomatoes, feta, dill and a lemony dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for a cookout. Throw some in a Tupperware and put it in the cooler for a camping trip. Whip some up this weekend!

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TW’s Tips

  • Next time I might change up the dill and add flat leaf parsley instead, for a fresher, brighter twist.
  • You could also switch up the feta with mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese.
  • Make sure you salt the pasta water — and taste for salt before you serve. I underseasoned mine.

Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound corkscrew pasta
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 7 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

In another large pot of boiling salted water, add the asparagus and blanch until bright green and slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and shock in icy cold water. Remove from the water and dry well.

Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut into bite-size pieces on the bias.

Whisk together the mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine the reserved asparagus and pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, dill, peas, feta, and the mustard dressing. Toss with tongs to coat the salad well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.