Something about the recent time change has me in a GREAT mood.
I mean, a few extra hours of sunlight each day does wonders for this woman 🙂
I’m probably jumping the gun here… it’s only mid-April… but I’m already busting out the grill pan and pretending it’s summer!
And one of my favorite parts about summer, is hot veggies fresh off the grill.
They get that delicious char on them, remain crisp tender, and are SO easy to make.
Since grilled veggies have so much flavor on their own, I like to keep it simple.
Just a simple vinaigrette, and maybe a little cheese tossed in there, and you’re good to go.
For this recipe, I’ve tossed my grilled zucchini with lots of lemon, fresh mint, and crumbed feta cheese.
It’s a perfectly balanced bite.
You’ve got the fresh pop of lemon, creamy tangy cheese, and the palate-cleansing fresh mint.
And one of the best parts?
It’s ready in just 20 minutes. Winning.
Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Lemon, and Feta
- 4 medium zucchini, cut on the bias into 1/2 inch thick slices
- olive oil, for grilling
- sprinkle of kosher salt & ground black pepper
- 5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Preheat a grill or grill pan over high high heat.
Place the sliced zucchini in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Toss with your hands until all the zucchini are evenly coated with oil and salt and pepper (make sure you use a generous amount of oil, or else the zucchini will stick to the grill!)
Add half of the zucchini to the grill (you'll probably need a grill basket) or grill pan. Grill for a few minutes on each side, until the zucchini is nicely charred but just tender. Remove to a large bowl & repeat with the second half of the zucchini.
As the zucchini cools, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mint. Pour over the warm zucchini.
Sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese over the zucchini & toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Have you tried them?
They are magical bites of crispy, salty, briny goodness.
And they make pasta amazing.
Especially simple pastas.
Like this spaghetti with lemon-parmesan sauce & pan seared shrimp.
The flavors of this dish, overall, are pretty basic:
- Tart lemon
- Salty and savory Parmesan cheese
- Lusciously smooth & fruity olive oil
- Buttery & slightly sweet shrimp
- Fresh and vibrant basil
On their own, this combination of ingredients is pretty solid.
But, sprinkle a few crispy crunchy fried capers on top, and oooo baby, now your dish is SPECIAL.
This meal comes together in a snap.
Simply sauté some shallot, and cook the shrimp in the same pan, with a splash of white wine.
When the shrimp is just done cooking, add a pound of cooked spaghetti to the pan, with a little reserved pasta water. Pour in an easy sauce made from olive oil, parmesan, and lemon, and toss in a small handful of basil.
Stir until the noodles and shrimp are coated with a creamy, cheesy, lemony sauce and serve garnished with fresh basil and fried capers.YUM!!!
Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp
- Generous pour of organic canola oil for frying
- 1 4-oz jar capers, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup sauvignon blanc white wine
- 1 cup freshly chopped basil
- Maldon sea salt, for serving
- Freshly cracked black pepper, for serving
Fill a small skillet with about 1/4 cup canola oil. Warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the capers (make sure they are well dried, or they will splatter in the oil) and fry for about 3-5 minutes, or until the capers are puffed open, darkened, and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried capers to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions, until al dente. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water before draining, then drain the pasta and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, add the 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a medium bowl & whisk until combined. Set aside for later.
When the pasta is done cooking, add the shallot and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and cook for just 1 or 2 minutes over medium heat until softened.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add to the nonstick skillet containing the shallot. Increase the heat to medium-high, and let cook for about 2 minutes on the first side. Flip the shrimp, and add the wine to the skillet, letting it cook off while the shrimp cook on the second side, about another 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta, lemon-olive oil-parmesan mixture, 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, and 1/2 cup of the fresh basil. Cook, tossing the pasta with the shrimp and sauce, until well combined. Let cook for a minute or two more, as needed, until the sauce has thickened slightly and coated the noodles. Add more reserved pasta water if the mixture is too dry.
When the pasta is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and transfer the pasta to serving bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the fried capers, 1/4 of the remaining fresh basil, and season with Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!
The key to always having dinner available on a busy weeknight?
Frozen chicken breasts + pantry staples.
They’ll get you through anything!
This delicious chicken & rice dinner was the result of an effort to clean out the fridge & pantry, and it’s freaking amazing.
First pantry staples? Rice and broth.
Cooking rice in broth gives it WAY more flavor, and allows it to form the base of a pilaf without being boring.
Next up: carrots, celery, and onion.
Simply sauté over medium heat for like 30 minutes, until the carrots and onions are nicely caramelized and FULL of flavor.
Add frozen peas and minced garlic.
(Two more ingredients that are almost always on hand)
Dump in a large bowl & toss with the warm rice.
Stir in: lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.
This mixture alone is SO yummy, and makes a great side dish, but you can turn it into an easy meal by adding sautéed chicken pieces.
Enter, frozen chicken breasts.
I always always have a bag of these in the freezer. They are a LIFESAVER on busy weeknights
Simply defrost, cut into cubes, season with salt, pepper, and a little dried oregano, and dredge with a light coating of flour. Pan fry until golden and crispy, and toss into the rice pilaf.
When it’s all said and done, you’ve got a well balanced meal in a bowl. Protein + veggies + grains + healthy fats. Yum.
Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white or brown rice
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 extra large carrots, diced
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
- 1 medium bunch parsley, minced
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fat or oil of your choice (I used leftover olive oil from turkey confit, but regular olive oil, lard, or other animal fat would work as well)
Add the rice and broth to a rice cooker and cook until done. Let sit on “warm” while you prep the rest of the dinner. (Alternatively, cook the rice in a saucepan according to package directions until tender, if done early, keep warm by storing in the oven or microwave).
As the rice cooks, add the carrots, celery, and onion to a large nonstick skillet along with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each). Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are nicely caramelized and golden brown.
Add the frozen peas and garlic to the pan, and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the peas are defrosted. Transfer the entire mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked rice, chopped parsley, fresh lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside. (I put mine in the microwave to keep it warm, but putting it in a turned-off oven works too).
Next, sprinkle the cubed chicken with the flour and season with about 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the dried oregano and toss to coat the chicken evenly.
Add the 2 tablespoons fat or oil of your choice to the same skillet that you browned the vegetables in. Warm over medium-high heat and add the chicken (don’t add any of the extra flour from the plate, as it will burn). Cook, stirring occasionally, until well golden brown on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the golden chicken pieces to the rice mixture and toss to combine. Spoon into bowls, and serve.