Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick and Fresh Home-Made Italian Meal

This is actually three recipes. This entire meal evolved from a search for something I could make to use up my fresh parsley before it went bad. One recipe is from a book, another from the internet, and another I created by myself. I've given credit where it's due (see credits below).

My husband was, like "WOW" and "Ooooo" and "This is great!" as he forked up his first and second helpings. We all enjoyed this meal - even the kids. It tasted like a little Italian grandma made it from scratch while I wasn't looking. This meal is quick, easy and delicious. It is a meal for a weeknight when you just don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.

TIP... first get your sauce started so it can simmer, then prepare your chicken so you can pop it in the oven. Lastly, boil your noodles and get your pesto ready. If you want to serve a salad with it, you can fit that in there somewhere (it isn't included in the recipes!).

Heather's Home Made Marinara

3 ripe tomatoes (skinned and crushed)
1 small can of Hunts tomato sauce (or medium if you want)
teaspoon of water
1/2-1 tsp. of olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1-2 cloves of crushed fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried Italian blend seasoning
dash of dried basil (or 1 tsp chopped fresh basil)
dash of dried rosemary (or 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary)

Mix all ingredients together in medium pot on stove-top at medium heat. Bring to a low boil stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Makes enough sauce for about 4-6 servings depending on size of serving.

Parsley-Pecan Pesto

Note from cookbook:
This nutty-tasting pesto is adapted from a recipe in my [Paulette Mitchell] cookbook "The 15-Minute Single Gourmet". When there is no time to shop and very little time to cook, I toss this simple sauce, made from staples, with rainbow rotini and chunks of plum tomatoes.
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (you can use either type of parsley)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (preferably toasted, which you can do yourself quickly)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tblsp minced fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbslp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp pepper or to taste
dash of salt or to taste

(optional garnish: pepper, parmesan cheese and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley)

Put all ingredients into food processor and process until mixture is slightly chunky sauce. Toss with fresh, hot, cooked pasta and adjust seasonings per taste.

Makes 1 cup sauce - enough for 16 ounces of cooked pasta (6 servings)

No Fry Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg, well beaten with 1 tsp. water
3/4 cup Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 26-oz jar of pasta sauce (*I MADE MY OWN SAUCE - SEE ABOVE)
4 oz shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 F, place chicken in-between Reynolds Release foil sheets with the edges closed tight or between a folded piece of wax paper and pound with rolling pin or meat mallet until flattened slightly. Dip chicken in egg and then bread crumbs. Arrange chicken in 9x13 inch baking dish. Salt and pepper if desired. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes depending on oven/elevation.

Pour pasta sauce over chicken and top with cheese. Bake additional 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Serve with hot, cooked pasta.

Makes 4 servings.

Heather's Home Made Marinara (obviously by me!)
Parsley-Pecan Pesto - 'the 15-minute gourmet: noodles' by Paulette Mitchell
No Fry Chicken Parmesan - adapted from 'That's My Home'

Here's a quick link to my noodle cookbook:

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