In case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been much Gourmet Lisa around here lately. That is because I haven’t been feeling that well (darn morning sickness) and the worst time of day for me is almost always around dinner time. Since I wasn’t cooking, Stephen is not very confident in his cooking skills, he was dang tired after work each night, and he’s also been filling in my gaps in housekeeping duties, we ate out. A lot. Hundreds of dollars were spent. It was quite ridiculous. After looking at where all our money went last month Stephen said, “This has to end. We’re throwing our money away. Either we have way more expensive tastes in food or I need to step it up and be a better leader in this area.”
So yesterday we spent a good portion of our holiday planning our menu for the week and grocery shopping. It was quite the challenge coming up with meals that incorporated the organic produce from our AH box and were very simple to make in case I wasn’t up to cooking.
A couple days ago I made what I was pretty sure was Caprese Salad as a side for our lunches using tomatoes I had recently harvested from our garden. Stephen didn’t believe that what I had made was Caprese Salad because of the episode of The Office where Michael tries to frame Toby and the cops said, “This isn’t weed, it’s Caprese Salad!” What was in that bag did not contain tomatoes or mozzarella. Of course The Office is an authoritative source on all things gourmet and Italian. After lunch I looked up Caprese Salad and found that I had indeed made what I thought I had made.
So what is Caprese Salad? It is a salad of tomatoes, mozarella cheese and basil. It is usually dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, there are many variations on the recipe. Sometimes it is served hot via arranging the ingredients on some kind of cooking stone and broiling them and there are variations in the dressing of the salad such as adding Balsamic vinegar or Italian dressing. The salad I made the other day was truthfully not very gourmet at all. I simply cut the 10 cherry sized tomatoes we had in half, sliced a couple sticks of mozzarella string cheese, tossed in some basil and then dressed the whole thing with olive oil, salt and Balsamic vinegar. Despite the humble ingredients (ahem… string cheese?), it was quite tasty!
Using that as inspiration, I brainstormed a meal that is very simple to make and a little more substantial than your traditional Caprese Salad. It was quite the team effort, though my husband did have his doubts going into things about whether you could have pasta without sauce. In the end though, he said it looked very good and upon eating said it was delicious. I will freely admit that this recipe is likely to get me into trouble with those of you that like exact amounts for things, but I hope you can figure it out and enjoy this delicious summer meal.
Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad
-1 large chicken breast
-garlic powder to taste
-salt to taste
-pepper to taste
-olive oil to taste
-Balsamic vinegar to taste
-3 large basil leaves
-2 or 3 tomatoes
-1 1/2 cups dry Farfalle pasta
-shredded mozzarella cheese to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook pasta according to package directions. Ours said it would be ready in 11-12 minutes. I do NOT recommend just going off what the time on the package says. We set our kitchen timer for 10 minutes so as not to forget about it among our other kitchen duties this evening and then began taste testing the pasta every minute or so after that until it reached perfection.
Meanwhile, season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and garlic powder. If you are pregnant like me and the thought of touching raw meat is absolute repulsion, it would be a good idea to get your husband involved in this step lest he hear you screaming from the kitchen, “Ew! Ew! Ew! I just got chicken juice all over me when I opened up the package! Ugh!” Then, have your husband grill the chicken until it is no longer pink and juices run clear.
While pasta and chicken are cooking, cut up tomatoes into 1/8 wedges. Salt to taste.
Chop basil leaves. I learned a really good way to cut up the basil from a cooking show once. Stack the basil leaves and then roll them lengthwise as if you were making a cigarette out of them (maybe this is where the producers of The Office got their idea for the sketch). Make thin slices across the roll and you will wind up with perfectly julienned confetti-like basil for your meal.
Drain pasta and place in large bowl. Cut chicken breast up into bite sized pieces and add to bowl. Add tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese (I used about two handfuls). Drizzle with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and then toss all ingredients together.
Serves 4 (Yay! Leftovers aka less cooking for us!).