Saturday, July 21, 2012

Best Dishes of 2012: Mid-Year Report

From an assortment of Pinterest losers to two of the BEST things I've made all year, even though it's only July! The first is the easiest Asian noodle dish topped with whatever fresh, delicious ingredients that your heart desires.

Spicy Thai Noodles
(Source: A Small Snippet via Pinterest)

1 pound box linguine (I used fettucine)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, more or less (to taste)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce, optional
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

cooked/peeled shrimp
green onions, sliced
carrots, shredded
radishes, sliced thinly
snow peas
chopped peanuts (I used honey roasted)
cilantro leaves, chopped (1/4 to 1/2 cup for the whole batch)

Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and cool.

Heat the vegetable oil with the red pepper flakes for two minutes over medium heat. Strain out the pepper and reserve the oil. Add the toasted sesame oil. Whisk in the honey, soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), garlic and ginger. Toss this mixture with the drained and cooled noodles, then chill for about four hours, or preferably, overnight.

Before serving, top each portion of noodles with any or all of the toppings suggested. Serve cold.

The spicy noodles are GOOD, but the next recipe is the over-the-top winner, especially now that the tomato season is in full swing. I pinned this one months ago, but I knew better than to make it right away with substandard, off-season tomatoes. My patience was rewarded a hundredfold, especially as I decided to add some fresh, local corn roasted and cut from the cob. WOW!! Admittedly, this dish is a little involved with several stages and quite a few steps, but soooooooooooooo worth your while. TRUST ME on this!

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herb-and-Lemon Marinated Chicken, Roasted Corn, and Cherry Tomatoes
(Source: Adapted from Goddess of Scrumptiousness via Pinterest)

1 pound spaghetti pasta (cooked al dente)
1 pound chicken breast fillets (skinless and boneless, sliced into 1 inch chunks)
For the chicken marinade:
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (if using dried, use half of the amount)
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (not table salt)
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to sauté the marinated chicken)

Add all the marinade ingredients into the chicken and marinate for 20 minutes (if making this dish in pronto) or over night (if making this dish the next day… much better). Saute the marinated chicken in extra virgin olive oil until cooked (about 4-5 minutes) then set aside.

For the garlic gravy:
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (to sprinkle/finish the pasta)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes

3 small ears of corn, roasted in their husks at 375 degrees for 25 minutes then cut from the cob, optional

Place sauté pan over medium heat and add butter and olive oil. Saute garlic until fragrant and soft. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Add chicken stock and simmer gravy until thickened then add the chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sauteed chicken in the gravy then toss the cooked spaghetti into this sauce. Add the cherry tomatoes and roasted corn (if using) and finish the dish with the chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese (serve extra on the side).

Makes 5-6 servings.

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