Sunday, December 9, 2012

Delicious Sunday Meal

Sunday Dinner - YUM!
This past Friday I was trying to come up with a nice Sunday dinner menu for my parents.  I usually like to cook a nice meal for them on weekends to show my appreciation for their love and support.

This weekend’s menu consisted of an arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries and goat cheese with a white wine vinaigrette, pasta ala vodka with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes and some tomato-garlic bread.

I thoroughly enjoy this go-to salad of mine.  It is light and easy to make.  The vinaigrette has a sweet and tangy flavor to it that just blends seamlessly with the pears and dried cranberries.  I frequently substitute goat cheese with cambozola blue for this recipe depending on what I’m in the mood for.

I recently came across a recipe for pasta ala vodka that uses sun-dried tomatoes and over a cup of Vodka in the sauce!  Now before you worry about the alcohol overpowering the flavor of the sauce, I can tell you that the vodka in this recipe really gives the sauce an added depth of flavor to it without it being overpowering.  In fact, after the alcohol burned off, it really enhanced the sun-dried tomatoes.  The cream with the pecorino cheese gave the sauce a nice velvety texture.  Another interesting aspect of this recipe saw a chicken cutlet placed atop of the dish rather than cooking the chicken with the sauce.  It was incredible and I was quite pleased with my first attempt at cooking cutlets.

I never would have thought to use tomato paste on garlic bread spread, but a minute amount of it added to your average garlic spread gives it an unexpected sweetness.  I highly recommend you give it a try next time.  All it takes is a half teaspoon of tomato paste to yield the desired effect.

Last but not least, the meal was paired with a delicious 2006 Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa Superiore that a good friend of mine gave me last week; thanks Jason!  Ripasso wines have become one of my favorites to enjoy with a meal or even on their own.  They have all the full-bodied taste of an amarone for half the price.  The reason being is that ripasso wine is made from “repassed” amarone grapes after they are used in the production of amarone wine.  As the production of amarone wines has increased over the 21st century, so too has ripasso as a “second-wine” offering to wine lovers.

I dare say that at the end of the meal, my folks were thoroughly pleased with the results and I hope you are too; enjoy!

Arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries and goat cheese with white wine vinaigrette

Arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries
and goat cheese with white wine vinaigrette
Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 Red Bartlet Pear sliced
  • 150g of Arugula
  • 100g of Goat cheese or Cambazola Blue cut or torn into chunks
  • Walnut pieces
  • Dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  1. Wash pear and arugula thoroughly and combine with cheese then garnish with walnuts and cranberries.
  2. Place the oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Close the lid, and shake vigorously to blend.   Drizzle salad with 4 to 5 tablespoons of dressing or as desired.  Store remaining dressing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Pasta Alla Vodka with Chicken Cutlets and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Pasta Alla Vodka with Chicken Cutlets and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 8 oz. dry pasta (campanelle, penne, or mafalda corta)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and oil reserved
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded pecorino cheese
  1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain
  2. Combine bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp. of parsley in a shallow dish
  3. Pound each chicken breast to about ½-inch thick between sheets of plastic wrap.  Season with salt and pepper then coat in bread crumb mixture.
  4. Heat 3 Tbsp. of the reserved tomato oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Place cutlets in the pan and cook until brown;,about 4 minutes per side.  Remove cutlets and set aside tenting them with foil.
  5. Melt butter in the same pan, add onions and garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.
  6. Add vodka, and reduce by half for about 3 minutes.  Add broth and tomatoes and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in cream and pepper flakes, reduce heat to low and simmer 3 more minutes.  Add pasta, pecorino and remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper. 
  8. Divide pasta among four plates and top with cutlets.
Tomato Garlic Bread

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 baguette cut
  • Minced fresh parsley
  1. Preheat broiler with rack 6 – 8 inches from element
  2. Combine butter, oil, tomato paste and garlic; season with salt and pepper
  3. Brush mixture onto bread and place on baking sheet then broil until toasted 1 – 2 minutes
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve

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