We had visitors last weekend! My mother-in-law (Nona), her husband (Grandpa Howard), Bobby's sister Molly and her three kids (Zoe, Jakob, and Riley) all stayed with us Saturday and Sunday and we spent Monday night in Nauvoo. We rarely have visitors, so we get really excited when the people we love come to see us! I wanted to make them a yummy dinner, so I played it safe and made one of Louise's favorites: Ina's Pesto, Pasta and Peas with her Grilled Lemon Chicken. I served with Macaroni Grill Bread (I substituted Italian Seasoning for dried rosemary) and a garden salad with buttermilk ranch. For dessert we had strawberry shortcake and Bobby's famous strawberry cupcakes.
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
3/4 lb. fusilli pasta (I used rotini)
3/4 lb. bow-tie pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups homemade pesto (let me know if you want my pesto recipe)
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis, toasted (To toast pignolis [pine nuts] place them in a dry saute pan and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until evenly browned, tossing frequently.)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes, until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and continue to puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta, then add the Parmesan cheese, peas, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Mix well and season to taste.
For the Grilled Lemon Chicken, I marinate 4 chicken breasts in equal parts lemon juice and olive oil (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of each), 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme. Marinade at least 2 days- 3 days is better. This chicken is amazing! We just grill it on the George Foreman.
“Macaroni Grill” Bread
This is a recipe intended to approximate that awesome chewy bread that they bring out
at the Macaroni Grill. The kind you dip into the olive oil and cracked garlic. No, it is not
healthy in the slightest. Shoot your inner fitness freak and let your inner gourmand rule.
1 Tbsp. Dry Yeast (I’m not sure what one yeast packet equals)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
2 1/2 Cups white flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. rosemary, chopped (The recipe called for fresh, but I used the
dried stuff with good results. Either way, make sure it is finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. canola oil, peanut oil or olive oil (I prefer olive)
Nonstick cooking spray (If baking on a cookie sheet)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Coarsely ground salt
Put the yeast, water and sugar into a blender or food processor. Mix it until it is frothy.
Turn the oven onto 200 degrees. (You just need to warm it up, you’re not baking yet).
Find a mixing bowl. Add two cups of the flour, the teaspoon of salt and half of your
chopped rosemary. Keep the other half cup of flour close at hand. Add the yeast mixture
to this and knead away. Don’t be shy. Fold it over itself plenty of times to get those
gluten strands good and stretched. Add the rest of the flour as needed to get the dough to
the right consistency (soft and stretchy without being overly sticky).
Turn the oven off.
Lift the dough out of the mixing bowl. Add the olive oil to the bowl and swirl it around.
Roll the dough in the olive oil so its well coated and let it sit in the bowl. Cover the bowl
with a dish towel and place it in the oven (the oven should be off by now, if you missed
that step). Leave the door cracked so it isn’t too hot in there.
Let the dough rise for about an hour. It should be approximately doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and knead it again. Divide it into two equal sized lumps and let it
sit for about 5-10 minutes.
Prepare your baking pan. I use a ceramic stone, but a cookie sheet will work. If the
surface is not naturally non-stick, spray it with the cooking spray. Shape the dough into
two oval-shaped loaves and arrange on the pan.
Melt the butter or margarine. Use a brush to paint the surface of the loaves with butter.
Use all of the butter. The loaves will be quite saturated when you’re done. Remember the
part about shooting your inner fitness freak. Take the rest of the chopped rosemary and
sprinkle it over the loaves. Pat it down gently to set it into into the dough.
Return the loaves to the oven. Don’t turn it on yet. Let the dough rise again, for about 45
Remove the loaves and preheat the oven to 450 F. Sprinkle a little bit of coarse salt over
Return the dough to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown.
Makes two loaves. Best enjoyed with olive oil and garlic.