Now that Mother Nature has finally made up her mind, we can all get out and plant our patio flowers and the annuals in our herb garden. What we want more than anything else is time outdoors in the sunshine and nothing labor-intensive in the kitchen.
Here are two of my favorite go-to spring dishes, neither of which will tie you to the stove for more than a few minutes. The Chicken Piccata is perfect with fresh asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc and the pasta is perfect with a green salad and a glass of Chardonnay.
CHICKEN PICCATA (4 servings)
You can pound the chicken breasts earlier in the day and keep them wrapped in plastic in the 'fridge, if you like. Don't salt or flour them until just before cooking.
4 chicken breast halves, skinless, boneless
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 cup how-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon wedges
With a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken breasts between
sheets of plastic wrap until they are a uniform 1/4-inch thickness.
Season with salt and pepper and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.
Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high setting. Heat the olive oil in the pan. Add the chicken breasts and sauté 2 to 3 minutes on one side, flip over, cover the skillet, and cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Transfer chicken to a warm plate. Pour off the fat from the skillet.
Place the pan back on the heat and deglaze with white wine. Add the minced garlic, and stir until the garlic is slightly golden and the wine has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add broth, lemon juice and capers. Return chicken to the skillet, cook 1 minute per side, and return to a warm plate.
Finish the sauce by gradually whisking in the butter. Pour sauce over the chicken, garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
FETTUCCINI WITH GORGONZOLA (6 servings)
Very rich. A little goes a long way.
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
10 ounces part-skim ricotta
1-1/4 cups milk (2% is okay)
1 pound fettuccini
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fresh black pepper to taste
In a skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the celery, onion and garlic in the butter until softened, In a food processor, puree the vegetable mixture with the Gorgonzola, ricotta and milk. Transfer to a medium/small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until it is just heated through. Keep sauce warm and covered.
Cook pasta, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and place in a large warm bowl. Toss pasta with the Gorgonzola sauce, parsley and black pepper. Serve immediately.