Tag Archives: rosemary

Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Figs, Grapes and Moscato Dressing: “Ode to Wine Country”

Ode to Wine Country

Serves 2

I call this “Ode to Wine Country” because it’s a beautiful salad of arugula and spinach, figs poached in Moscato, globe grapes, walnuts, chicken and a Moscato dressing with a hint of rosemary.  These are the some of the flavors found in wine country.

This salad comes together in about 10 minutes but tastes like a salad you’d get in an upscale restaurant. It is healthy and practically effortless.

My husband and I have both been losing weight recently- he’s down 20 pounds and I’ve shed 10- so we’re eating a lot of salads!,

Salad can get boring after awhile, but this one will keep us coming back for more.

Tip: If you don’t regularly drink Moscato, buy one of the airplane-size bottles for the recipe.

2/3 cup inexpensive Moscato (you’re using it to poach, so it doesn’t need to be an expensive bottle)

6 dried figs

4 cups mixed arugula and spinach mix (you can also substitute a spring mix of greens)

12 globe grapes

12 walnut halves

1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion

2/3 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

6 teaspoons Moscato liquid reserved from poaching

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

¼ teaspoon honey

Goat cheese crumbles (optional)

Place Moscato in a small pot and turn the heat on to medium. While it heats, slice figs in half and set aside.

Next, divide the greens between two plates.  Rinse the grapes off and slice in half.  Divide the grapes and walnuts evenly between the plates. Next, chop the onion and chicken and divide that between the plates.

By now, your Moscato should be bubbling. Add the figs and poach for 3 minutes. Remove figs immediately, but reserve the Moscato liquid.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 6 tablespoons of the Moscato liquid, rosemary and honey. Pour over salad and toss thoroughly. If desired, add goat cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Preserving and using your herbs – and a great pesto recipe

The end of summer means the end of an herb garden is near.

Depending on the weather, you may have several weeks to harvest fresh herbs, but I like to start cutting my plants back now and preserving as many as possible for winter.

If you have a sunny spot in the house, you can bring in oregano, rosemary, and lavender which will usually survive for several months inside. I’ve had mixed luck with basil but it’s worth a try.

Some herbs like rosemary and thyme are easy to dry, while others like cilantro and basil, do not dry well. This week, I have a lot of suggestions on which herbs to dry, freeze or use now (and a great pesto recipe to use up that basil).

First, let’s talk about basil, which is the most commonly grown herb. There’s nothing like fresh basil, but that flavor is hard to capture.  The best way to preserve basil is to make pesto and freeze it.

I recommend buying mini plastic storage containers to freeze basil in smaller portions (about ½ to 1 cup at a time). My husband is a teacher and one of his co-workers, Janice Queen, makes amazing pesto. I asked her to share her recipe. Something I really like about this recipe is it calls for almonds, as well as pine nuts (pine nuts are very expensive, so this is a more economical recipe).  The recipe also calls for a good dose of parsley, which is nice if you’re growing that, too.

Pesto is versatile: use it as a salad dressing, toss it with pasta and fresh tomatoes, or pour it over a block of cream cheese for a quick dip (serve with crackers and French bread).

Herb butters are another wonderful way to use up herbs, particularly rosemary and basil.  All you have to do is soften 1 stick of unsalted butter, stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped basil or 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary. Then spread it on a slice of French bread.  It’s marvelous and an easy and inexpensive addition to a party. You can also add 1 tablespoon finely minced sundried tomatoes to the butter.

If I am serving it at a party, I serve it at room temperature, but if you want herb butter for your family, mold the butter back into a log, place it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for several days (rosemary butter will last longer than basil).

If you have leftover herb butter, use it in pasta, on vegetables, or spread a pat on a steak.

Another idea to use either fresh or dried herbs is to sprinkle herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary or a combination are my favorites) on a mix of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for a quick bread dip. You can use that recipe to marinate vegetables that you’re going to grill, too. Be sure to add salt to both dishes though.

Ok, now we’ve used fresh herbs, let’s talk about drying herbs.

Before you dry any herb, you want to rinse it gently and pat it dry with a paper towel. Only dry herbs that are in perfect condition, and discard any that are wilted or changing colors.

Certain herbs, like thyme and rosemary, dry beautifully. To dry these herbs all you have to do is cut off the stems, lay them on a piece of parchment paper on a pan and let it rest for about 7 days. After that, pull the leaves off and place in a spice jar away from sunlight or heat.

dried rosemary

I dry my rosemary and buy pretty glass jars and give it away at Christmas. Also, you can use dried rosemary to make an herb butter which is excellent on rolls or whipped into mashed potatoes and makes a good hostess gift.

Mint and oregano have a slightly higher moisture content and are better dried after you pick the leaves off the plant. Don’t let the leaves touch each other as this may increase the chance of the herbs molding before they have a chance to dry. Place the leaves on a paper towel on a baking sheet and cover with another paper towel.  Place them in an oven for 24-48 hours (turn on the light in the oven, not the heat). Leaves are ready when they crumble in your hand.

My favorite thing to do with cilantro is let it go to seed and then collect those seeds which are coriander seeds (and those are expensive in the store). Coriander seeds have great flavor. Another option though is to chop cilantro, place nearly 1 tablespoon in an ice cube tray and fill it with water. Freeze. This retains some of the original cilantro flavor, but will still not be the same.

Hopefully this will help you enjoy the last weeks of your herb garden and stretch that flavor into winter.

Easy Pesto

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or a combination (I usually use almonds)

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups fresh basil, no stems

3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Salt to taste

In a food processor, combine the oil, garlic, almonds and Parmesan cheese. Then, feed in the herbs and blend until combined.   It is so easy and freezes very well.

Recipe was originally adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook.

Jumbo Shells Stuffed with Feta, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Chicken- SO EASY!

This dish comes together so quickly that the longest part is typically boiling water. It’s an excellent dish and is good warm, at room temperature and even cold, so you can pack any leftover for lunch.

In the winter, I add dried rosemary, but in the summer, sprinkle the dish with fresh basil.

In this dish, you use 2 ounces of feta cheese crumbles and to give you perspective, the containers in the store are usually four ounces, so you want half that much feta.

This pasta just explodes with the flavor of feta, roasted red pepper and has lean protein. It’s easy and do delicious.

Jumbo Shells Stuffed with Feta, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Chicken

Serves 2

12 Jumbo Shells

2 ounces feta cheese crumbles

¼ cup artichoke hearts

¾ cup jarred roasted red bell peppers (half of a 14 ounce jar)

¾ cup finely chopped rotisserie chicken

Pinch of dried Rosemary or fresh basil

Cook jumbo shells according to package directions (usually about 12 minutes). Drain.

While the shells cook, place feta cheese, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers in a food processor and pulse until mixture is fairly smooth. You will see plenty of specks of feta and that is fine, but you want the red pepper and artichoke to be smooth.

shell5

Finely chop your chicken and stir it into the roasted red pepper sauce. Add a pinch of dried rosemary or fresh basil. If I have fresh basil, I garnish the tops of the dish with it.

When shells are cool enough to handle, spoon filling into shells and serve. It’s that easy! Enjoy.

In terms of vegetables, this goes great with sautéed spinach or roasted asparagus.

shells

Rosemary Chicken Salad

This recipe is so easy and fantastic. I love rosemary, which was the inspiration for this recipe. We grew loads of it last summer and I dried it and am using up the last bits. It’s so easy to dry. I gave several bottles away for Christmas.

Anyway, when I told my husband about my rosemary salad, you didn’t think it sounded good, but when he tasted it, he was won over. I’d serve it on ciabatta or grilled Italian or French bread. If you are a low carb person, serve it in butter lettuce.

I am in love with it. It’s my few favorite chicken salad. It’s unbelievably easy to make. I experiment with a lot of chicken salad ideas because the dish is so simple, versatile, portable, and delicious.

It’s also excellent as an appetizer on Ritz crackers!!! I tried it in phyllo bites, too, but the Ritz were better.

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Rosemary Chicken Salad

3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2/3 cups chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (could substitute red if you need)

1 heaping tablespoon chopped, dried rosemary

Garlic salt to taste

Combine chicken, onion and celery and set aside.

In another bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, rosemary and garlic salt. I added ¼ teaspoon of garlic salt but I like it salty, so I would salt to taste.

Stir together both mixes and enjoy. This is better the next day so I suggest making it in advance.