A Taste of Tuscany


Recipe inspired by Date Night: Grill It! With Chef Joel Gamoran and Chef Ali Banks at Sur La Table Cooking Classes, Essence of Tuscany

Farm To Table Fresh, DIY

My father and I both share a love of Tuscany, the gorgeous landscapes, rich artistic history and food that is lush with a rustic simplicity.

This week I was transported back to Tuscany with this simple yet elegant meal of Linguini with Arugula-Parmesan Pestoand Grilled Balsamic Chicken Breasts with Bacon and Rosemary.

The linguine makes use of the fresh herbs and greens that blanket the hillsides of Tuscany. Arugula, also called Rocket, is very low in calories and high in Vitamins A and C.  This dish is quick and easy to prepare.  For a healthier, lighter corn based pasta.  Try Le Veneziane Fettuccine for the same satisfying taste without the bulk.  Seriously, I’m not on anyone’s payroll and I’m addicted to this pasta.

Linguini with Arugula-Parmesan Pesto

2 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (almonds or pine nuts optional)
1 large bunch arugula, washed and dried, stems off
2 small bunches of flat-leaf parsley, washed and dried, stems off
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
½ squeezed lemon, as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried linguini

To prepare pesto, place garlic, almonds, arugula and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse to a rough chop.  Add olive oil in a steady stream and process to a smooth paste.  Stop and add cheese and lemon, stirring by hand.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To cook pasta, heat a large pot of water over high heat to boil.  Add enough Kosher salt to season the water like sea water.  While Salted water boils vigorously, add pasta and stir.  Boil until al dente, according to package directions.  Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water and drain pasta through colander. Transfer to a large serving bowl.  Drizzle hot pasta with pesto, tossing to coat lightly.  If pasta seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water to moisten.  Garnish with grated cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Bacon and Rosemary

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
4 (5 to 6 ounce) boneless chicken breast halves, skin on
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 slices thick-cut bacon (doB tip* use turkey bacon for lowfat)
Lemon wedges for serving

To prepare marinade, whisk together oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and minced rosemary in a small mixing bowl.  Pour marinade into a large zip-top bag and add chicken breasts, sealing the bag and tossing well to coat.  Let chicken marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill to medium or a large grill pan.  Remove chicken breasts from marinade and pat dry.  Tuck a rosemary sprig under the skin of each breast and wrap each with a slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick or an additional rosemary stem.

Place chicken breasts on grill and cook, turning 2 or 3 times, until bacon is crispy and chicken is cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Using tongs, remove chicken from grill and place on a cutting board with a well.

Remove toothpicks and let rest.  To serve, slice chicken into ½-inch thick slices using a sharp slicing knife and divide between 4 dinner plates.

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