I’ve prepared dinner for you all. Just an easy, super flavorful, super delicious dinner.
Start with polenta. Sweet roasted garlic mashed into a paste. Pecorino Romano cheese, sharp and salty. Fresh thyme. sea salt and pepper. A touch of olive oil for body and flavor. You may want to just scoop this straight out of the bowl. But wait.
Fry squares in a thin layer of oil; crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. This alone could be your meal. Oh. So. Good.
Roast some vegetables. Potatoes, peppers, romaine lettuce; whatever you want. Toss them in olive oil, a little ground mustard. Roast them nice and crispy. These would be great on their own; but we’re not done yet.
We’re making quinoa.
Now, I know that quinoa can sound very sort of “crunchy granola hippie”. But trust me, it’s great. Very similar in texture to couscous, but with an earthier, grainier taste. Yum.
Toss the vegetables and quinoa together while they’re both still warm. A simple vinaigrette of roasted garlic paste, red wine vinegar, thyme and olive oil. That’s it. Simple, delicious. Like good old-fashioned comfort food, but healthy.
And the chicken. This chicken is so juicy and flavorful. A super simple marinade of equal parts Worstershire sauce and lemon juice. Just douse those babies and let them sit. When they’re ready, just plop them on the grill top. Done and done. And delish.
This dinner is great to make ahead of time. The chicken marinade and the polenta cakes can all be made the night before and refrigerated. Very easy, very yummy and very healthy. If you put that whole “fried and cheesy” thing aside.
Fried Polenta Cakes
1 whole head of garlic
1 package pre-made polenta
1 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut the head of garlic in half widthwise. Coat the cut ends in olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in the oven until garlic is golden brown and soft, about 30-35 minutes. Squeeze the garlic out into a small bowl. Mash to a smooth paste.
Microwave the polenta in a large bowl for about 30 seconds until softened. Add 2/3 of the garlic paste to the polenta and mix well (reserve the remaining 1/3 for the salad vinaigrette). Add the cheese, olive oil, thyme, sea salt and pepper to the polenta and mix well. Brush the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil. Dump the polenta onto the baking sheet and press into the sides, spreading the mixture evenly across the pan. Refrigerate to set for at least 2 hours.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Cut out two 2 1/2” squares of the polenta and add to the oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3-5 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining polenta. Serve warm.
Makes approximately 8 cakes
Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
6-8 medium red potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. ground mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, plus 1 Tbsp. minced thyme leaves only
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked quinoa
remaining roasted garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Dice potatoes and bell pepper into 1” pieces. Toss, including full romaine lettuce head, with olive oil, ground mustard, 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, sea salt and pepper. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in the middle of the oven until slightly soft, about 20 minutes. Add the bell pepper and romaine lettuce to the baking sheet and roast another 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup uncooked quinoa and 2 cups salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, covered, until water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Let stand off heat 5 minutes and fluff with fork.
In a small bowl, whisk roast garlic paste, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme leaves until smooth. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.
In a large bowl, combine roast vegetables and quinoa. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Zesty Grilled Chicken
1/2 cup Worstershire sauce
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
In a small bowl, whisk together Worstershire sauce, lemon juice and garlic. Set aside.
Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Place between two sheets of saran wrap and pound thin. Place in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over top, making sure all chicken breasts are completely submerged. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. When searing hot, brush with olive oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, being sure to wipe off any excess garlic. Grill until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Slice on the diagonal and serve immediately over polenta cakes.