perfect herbed grilled chicken + corn with kale + basil pesto

IMG_1628
What I’m about to say will shock you, but after three weeks of devouring copious amounts of fresh, rich cheeses, ribbons of homemade pasta, warm baguettes, and flaky almond croissants, all I wanted was a bowl piled high with greens. Much to my shock, awe and chagrin, I’ve learned that it is possible to tire of pastry and white flour.

It is possible to say: PLEASE, NO MORE CROISSANTS!

As soon as my plane touched down and I made my way through the labyrinth that is JFK, all I craved were kale and protein. Perhaps to punish myself for all the delectable eats I consumed during my three-week European food odyssey, I turned to the BIG GOOPER herself, Gwyneth. We’re going to ignore the People cover story, gloss over her I’m just like you, bit, and leap into the pages of her cookbook, which do indeed hold a fair amount of goodness. SMITE YOU, GWYNNIE!

Three years ago, I was a woman who cooked at home. Walked half a mile to the subway, just because. Eschewed meal delivery. I was fit, healthy and strong, and over the course of three years I somehow managed to turn into someone who downloads Seamless Web, uses it, and becomes addicted to it. Complains about walking anywhere. During my holiday, I walked for eight to twelve hours a day and I fell in love with it all over again. The way one can get lost, hatch plans and strange ideas, and feel alone, but not lonely — this is what walking affords you.

When I came home, my friend was barren, and I immediately stocked it with greens, meats, and fresh herbs. Can I tell you how good it felt to grill a chicken? It’s so minor, a shift imperceptible to anyone BUT ME, but my walking, my cooking, my need for space and quiet, reminds me of a version of myself that I miss.

Here’s to being back. Here’s to seeing where the day takes you. Here’s to eating virtuously.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good.
Serves 4
For the chicken
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh basil
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to barely 1/4 inch thick

IMG_16121

For the kale + basil pesto corn (I modified Paltrow’s basic pesto recipe to include kale. If you’re not keen on kale, just use one cup of packed basil leaves, instead.)
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup packed flat kale leaves (not the curly kind)
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS
For the chicken: Combine the herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest/juice, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl and rub the herb mixture all over each piece, being sure to get it on both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken mariante for at least 1/2 hr (I recommend an hour), or as long as overnight. I marinated my chicken for an hour at room temperature, however, if you’re going for overnight, just make sure that you let your chicken come to room temperature before you grill it.

IMG_16191

Heat a grill or grill pan (I used my panini press, true story) over medium heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes on each side.

For the kale + basil pesto corn: In a medium pot with salted water, add 2 cups frozen corn and cook until tender (6-7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor until the pesto has a rough texture. To be honest, I’ve never tasted a difference when you blitz the nuts + garlic prior to adding the leaves, so I tend to add in the lot in one shot.

Add 1/4-1/2 cup of the pesto to the corn. I tend to like a light coating, so I used a 1/4 cup for 4 servings of corn. This is purely my preference.

IMG_1626
IMG_1631

baked squash with millet and caponata

IMG_7564
Why not have a big life? — Emily Dickinson

Why not have a big life? Have the most extraordinary life there is? Why settle for anything less than extraordinary? Why not live every day jumping out of bed and hurtling yourself into the trees? Why not fall in love with yourself all over again? Why not sleep the sleep of children? Why not take the sun like sacrament? Why not read a book and then read it again? Why not ride the subway to the end of the line? Why not eat a slice of cake in the morning? Why not forget the calories? Why not watch cartoons like you used to? Why not email everyone you know and tell them you love them, love them, love them, just because.

Why not break ranks? Why not tumble out to the unknown?

Today I woke and fell in love with my life. And I finally could see myself here, and then myself, there. And I could finally draw a line between the two.

Did I mention I took my first French class today and that I. LOVED. IT.? And did I mention I got over my fear of eggplant and dove right into this delicious bit of healthy heaven? Did I…Did I?!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron Meals (serves 2; 525 calories/serving)
2 medium acorn squash
1/2 cup millet*
1 small zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley (2-3 tbsp chopped)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp raw (cane) sugar
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp of olive oil

*If you can’t access millet, I think quinoa or bulgur wheat would do quite nicely.

IMG_7545

DIRECTIONS
First, pre-heat your oven to 425F and put a medium pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the squash, then scoop out the seeds. Although this recipe doesn’t use the seeds, I love them roasted and tossed with some chili (yum!). But I digress. Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then place them in the oven on a baking sheet. Since the oil drizzled on my pan I managed to set off the fire alarm in my apartment every thirty seconds. Note to self: line the pan with parchment paper to prevent smoking.

Dice the zucchini, eggplant and red pepper (making sure you de-seed the pepper). Then chop the garlic and roughly chop the parsley. Once the water is boiling, add the millet and boil for 10 minutes, or until the it is tender.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil into a medium pan, then turn the heat to high. Sauté the eggplant, zucchini and red pepper for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are soft. It’s important that you cut your vegetables around the same size so that they’ll cook evenly. You may need to add another tbsp of olive oil while your cooking the veggies. After 4 minutes, add the garlic and sugar, and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add the vinegar and most of the parsley. This is your caponata.

Once the millet is done, drain and add to the pan with the caponata. Stir until well combined, then remove from the heat.

Next, remove the squash from the oven and fill with your caponata mixture. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the top, then bake for 15 more minutes, or until the squash is completely tender. If you have extra filling, save it to serve alongside the squash.

Once the squash is tender, remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining parsley and DIG IN!

IMG_7548
IMG_7550
IMG_7559