An easy weeknight dinner you can whip up on the BBQ in half an hour

An easy weeknight dinner you can whip up on the BBQ in half an hour
Once you master this simple method, you’ll want to recreate it again and again, says Ann Maloney

Sometimes you come across a little cooking technique that sets off a bell: ding, ding, ding.

I found this one as I was looking for ideas for what to do with leftover orzo, but it would work with any quick-cooking pasta shape.

For this pasta salad, you put a pot of water on for the orzo and while waiting for it to boil, coarsely shred the courgette and gather the dill and feta. As soon as the orzo is al dente, you drain it in a colander and immediately add the shredded vegetable to the hot-from-the-pot pasta so that it “cooks” – or more accurately wilts.

Scoop that combination into a serving bowl, toss with your choice of cheese and herbs, and you’ve got a delicious main course or a perfect side in about 20 minutes.

To create a complementary side to one of my favorite spice rubs for grilled chicken – oregano, chilli powder and smoked paprika spice – I added the crumbled feta and fresh dill, but you can be creative. Consider grated parmesan with basil and chives, as the original recipe called for, or any herby combination.

On weeknights if I’m craving grilled foods, I sometimes rely on quick-cooking chicken cutlets and my stovetop grill pan for a faster result, but keep this side dish in mind as you fire up the grill this weekend and beyond.

Grilled chicken with courgette pasta salad

Time: 35 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Make ahead: The pasta salad is best freshly made, but it can be made up to 1 day ahead.

Storage notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated, separately, in airtight containers for up to 3 days.

Notes: If time allows, remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before cooking to take the chill off the meat, which will ensure more even cooking.

To cut waste, don’t toss the dill stems. Mince them and toss them into the pasta with the fronds.

Ingredients

For orzo:

230g wholewheat or regular orzo (8oz)

1 large courgette (about 340g), coarsely shredded (3 cups)

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

¼ tsp fine sea salt or table salt, plus more as needed

¼ tsp finely ground black pepper, plus more as needed

110g crumbled feta (about 4 ounces)

9g fresh dill fronds, lightly chopped, plus more for serving (¼cup)

For the chicken:

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp distilled white vinegar

1½ paprika, preferably smoked

1 tsp light or dark brown sugar

½ tsp round chipotle chile powder

½ tsp dried oregano, preferably Greek

¼ tsp fine sea salt or table salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

Pinch finely ground black pepper (optional)

4 chicken cutlets (about 450g total)

Method

1. Make the orzo: in a large pot of water over high heat to a boil, add the orzo and cook according to the package directions until al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain into a colander, then add the courgette and toss together. Let sit for 1 minute.

2. Transfer the courgette and orzo mixture to a large bowl, and toss with the lemon zest and juice, oil, salt and pepper and let cool, about 10 minutes. Add the feta and dill and toss to combine. Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper as needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

3. While the pasta is cooling, grill the chicken. If using a well-seasoned grill pan, place it over medium-high heat until a few drops of water sizzle and quickly evaporate, about 3 minutes. If using a grill, oil the grates well. If using a gas grill, preheat it to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal in a chimney; when the briquettes are mostly white and ashy, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 15cm above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. This recipe may take about 15 to 20 minutes longer if using a charcoal grill.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, paprika, brown sugar, chipotle, oregano, salt, garlic powder and pepper until combined.

5. Pat the chicken dry and then rub the spice mixture all over. Add the chicken to the grill. If using a stove-top grill pan, reduce the heat to medium 1 minute after adding the cutlets. Grill, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes. Then flip, and grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

6. Serve the chicken atop or beside the orzo, with fresh dill fronds sprinkled on top, if desired.

Nutrition | Calories: 501; total fat: 18g; saturated fat: 6g; cholesterol: 98mg; sodium: 746mg; carbohydrates: 49g; dietary fibre: 7g; sugar: 4g; protein: 37g.

© The Washington Post

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