As the weather gets warm people tend to break out the grill more often. It is easy to just put a little salt and pepper on whatever we want to grill, and call it good. While that is ok, it is not all that interesting. I’ve been playing with various marinades and grilling chicken to make it more interesting. When I had some fruit I needed to get rid of, and some leftover wine I decided to combine them and make sangria. Since we had sangria I thought it might be nice to have sort of a Spanish theme for dinner!
Since the sangria will take more time than the chicken I’ll start with that. It is kind of a free-form thing (for me, anyway). A little leftover wine, some fruit, some more wine, a little sugar, some juice, and let it sit. That is literally what we did. We had quite a few cherries (We pitted them before they went into the jar.) that we needed to get rid of before they turned to mush, some blue berries, a couple of oranges that we cut into wedges. All of that went into a glass jar with a quarter cup of sugar. We had some leftover merlot, and some riesling in all totaling maybe a bottle’s worth of wine. Then just a little bit of orange juice. We put it in the fridge and let it sit for a few days.
On our quest for something different to do with grilled chicken we went looking in one of my books for a marinade. This is what I found! It originally called for saffron, bloomed in hot water, but I don’t have any at the moment so I left it out. It is very tasty with nice bright fruity flavors.
zest and juice of 3 oranges
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sherry
2 TBSP soy sauce (obviously gluten-free)
2 TBSP sherry vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 TBSP cracked black pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients, and marinate the chicken breasts for 4 hours or so. I used my vacuum sealer to marinate mine, but you can use a zipper bag just as easily. This marinade would work quite well on shrimp or pork as well.
While I waited, I decided that I wanted to make some roasted potatoes as well. A while back I went to a tapas bar and had a very tasty dish that had grilled baby octopi and roasted potatoes in a sherry bacon vinaigrette. I decided that I would do something similar with our potatoes. I made up a quick sherry vinaigrette with sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, dry mustard and cayenne. Then quartered some red skin potatoes and popped them in the oven. When they were ready I poured them in a bowl, and tossed them with the dressing. It was very easy, and very tasty. Keep in mind that the sherry vinegar will get pretty potent as a smell when you pour it over the hot potatoes!
When I was about ready to cook I started the fire. When the fire was ready I sprayed the chicken with cooking spray and put them on the grill. Remember, when you grill if you start moving the food around it will stick. Leave it alone for a bit, and it will release. Then you can turn it or flip it. Once the chicken is done bring it inside and get ready to eat.
We had some asparagus that we sautéed, the chicken, potatoes, and a nice salad. With the sangria it made for a very nice summer supper, and we didn’t even have to travel to Barcelona! (Not that it wouldn’t be nice to go there at some point!)
The other night Amy and I were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. Neither of us had anything thawed, and didn’t really feel like a big meal, but we both wanted something tasty. What we did have was a can of chickpeas(for some reason we thought they were actually cannelini beans until she actually got them out of her pantry), some pasta, a couple of roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, half of a red onion, some garlic, a bottle of Pinot Grigio that we only needed part of. This is actually a really simple thing to put together, and will get you a really quick and tasty dinner in under a half hour.
The first thing is to cook the pasta. Obviously, you need to follow the recommendations on the package since gluten-free pastas vary in cooking times. Once it is cooked drain it, and rinse it in cold water to cool it. Toss it in a little olive oil, and set it aside for now.
Next, we’ll make our “sauce.” Dice the tomato. Half inch cubes should be fine. Mince a few cloves of garlic. We used about four, but if you really like garlic use as much as you want. Dice half of a red onion. To that add white wine and olive oil to just cover everything. A fifty-fifty mix will work well, but it doesn’t need to be exact.
Open the can of chickpeas, drain, and rinse them. Get a medium sized skillet hot over medium heat, and add a small amount of oil. When the oil is hot add the chickpeas. Saute them for a minute or so to get them hot. Next, add the tomato mixture (There is no rule saying how much to add so go with what looks good to you.), and keep things moving in the pan. Add the spinach to the pan, and cook until it has wilted. You may be surprised at how little spinach it looks like once it is wilted! You’ll eventually get it up to a boil. Once the liquid comes up to a boil add the pasta, and saute everything until everything is hot.
Obviously, this kind of thing gives you lots of room to improvise, and make it your own. In this case, it was vegan as well as being gluten-free. Whatever it little category you want to cram it into, it was very tasty, very quick, and very easy!
I keep seeing these ads on TV for some steam in the bag dinner with like pasta and chicken, and veggies. They have this intro that says something like “who says sauteing, and chopping and peeling at the end of the day is relaxing?” These commercials bother me, a lot. Are we that lazy? Obviously, since I and at least some of you are on gluten-free diets we can’t eat these, but if you are looking for a quick meal like this there is a way to do it.
How many people do you have to feed? Figure one ounce of pasta per person. What do you like? Farfalle? Penne? Whatever. Cook that according to the directions on the box. Drain it, and rinse it with cold running water to cool it. Drain it, put it in a container to store it, toss it with some olive oil, and put it in the fridge till you need it for later.
At work we make a mix of tomatoes, white wine, fresh basil, olive oil, and garlic. It’s really simple, and works really well. Go. Do that! The easiest way to cut something leafy like the basil is to take the leaves, and kind of roll several of them together. Then take your knife, and slice through all of them. This is called chiffonade. Whatever you feel like is fine. This is going to be the sauce part of the pasta.
So, now you can pick whatever you feel like having in your pasta. Chicken? Peas? Broccoli? Mushrooms? The sky is pretty much the limit. The real key is to make sure that whatever it is will cook quickly. Something like chicken could be cooked ahead, and sliced or cubed so that when you put it in all you have to do is get it hot. Veggies will mostly go quick, so unless you have something like eggplant that will take some time don’t worry about them. Just cut them small enough that they are about the same size as everything else.
When it’s dinner time, get a skillet that is big enough to fit all of the stuff that you want to put in there, get it good and hot. Add some canola oil. (Now is NOT the time for you to use your nice extra virgin olive oil! You’ll be wasting it.) Once the oil is hot, add whatever will take the longest. Since I’m not giving a specific recipe, I can’t help you here. Once you have in the veggies, and chicken or whatever, and they are getting hot, add the tomato mixture. Carefully, and remember that you can always add a little more if you want, but its a bit tricky to take it out. You’ll see the liquid start to boil. Add the pasta, and toss or stir. This will get everything coated in your sauce, and heated through.
That’s it! Put it in your serving bowl or on plates or however you want to eat, and you’re done! Toss a little cheese on top, and everybody will be thrilled!