Today was indeed leftovers… but they were hard to find in the final dish.
We eat dinner at around 6 on Thanksgiving, so we do have appetizers near the game. Each year I invite both family and friends; one of those friends brought a red pepper and fennel appetizer.
Not only beautiful they were also delicious (and she gave me the recipe!). She made two dozen, and although we had 20 people this was more than enough with the other appetizers and dinner on the way. She mentioned that she had used the leftovers in the past to make a pasta sauce and a soup. The pasta sauce idea stuck with me and we split the leftovers.
When I made my weekly menu, I knew I needed a protein (the men of my house insist); I decided on Caprese Chicken.
Today, I pulled the peppers out of the fridge with my chicken and set to prepping my dinner. I started by making a quick pesto (2 small packages of basil (3.4 ounces each) and 1 minced clove of garlic chopped in a food processor and then process in salt, pepper, and shredded parmesan, finishing with just enough olive oil to spread it). I spread this on my 4 chicken breasts and then baked it at 400 for 25 minutes. While it was baking, I boiled water for pappardelle pasta and set to work on peppers. I used 6 of peppers; my first task was peeling the peppers and then I chopped them before tossing them in a large skillet.
I heated them through while the pasta cooked to al dente. Just before the pasta was done I topped each of the chicken breasts with 2 large basil leaves, sliced plum tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella and returned them to the oven for 5 minutes longer.
I then tossed the pasta directly in the sauce and served.
Makes 8 as a first course
- 4 large red peppers
- 2 small bulbs fennel
- 1 x 14 oz (400 g) tin Italian plum tomatoes
- 8 dessert spoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 rounded teaspoon mixed pepper berries
- ¾ level teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- ½ level teaspoon fennel seeds
- juice ½ lemon
- finely chopped spring onion for garnish (optional)
- sea salt
Slice each pepper in half lengthways, cutting right through the green stalk end and leaving it intact; though it won’t be eaten, it adds much to the look of the thing. Remove all the seeds.
Place the pepper halves on the baking sheet, then drain the tomatoes (you don’t need the juice), and divide them into eight equal portions, placing each portion inside a pepper half.
Now pare off any brownish bits of fennel with your sharpest knife and cut the bulbs first into quarters and then again into eighths, carefully keeping the layers attached to the root ends.
Now put them in a saucepan with a little salt, pour boiling water on them and blanch them for 5 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and, as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange two slices in each pepper half.
Sprinkle 1 dessert spoon of olive oil over each one, using a brush to brush the oil round the edges and sides of the peppers.
Next, lightly crush the pepper berries, coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin and bowl, sprinkle these evenly all over the fennel and peppers, and finish off with a grinding of sea salt.
Then bake the peppers for about 1 hour on a high shelf in the oven until they are soft and the skin wrinkled and nicely tinged with brown.
After removing them from the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice all over, cool and serve garnished with a little finely chopped spring onion or as they are.
Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy
- 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
- salt and black pepper, to taste
In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended.
Prep 5 ∙ Cook 30 ∙ Makes 4
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- ½ cup pesto
- 8 basil leaves, large
- 2 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Place chicken in a medium sized baking dish and coat with pesto.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with basil, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.