I’d like to introduce the newest addition to “Casa Diehl”- a Uniflame 15,000 BTU gas grill. I am well aware that this is commonly known as a “tailgating grill” but when your outdoor space is approximately 10 feet by 5 feet and propane tank size is limited, it is making the best of a very small situation.
This grill is bigger than our previous grill and is more powerful. Perhaps the biggest improvement is that it is on a stand which eliminates the need to stoop and bend to grill…those of a certain age will appreciate that fact.
More heat and more space have opened up more opportunities. As the warmer weather continues to build, we will be relying on this little emerald gem more often.
While not the first dish that has come off the grill, this side dish is a good place to start. Potatoes (russet this time) and Asparagus grilled up golden brown and dressed with a Honey Mustard Dressing is the perfect accompaniment to any grilled protein. It is also one of those basic recipes that can be adapted to a garden of possibilities.
This recipe served two generously with leftovers to go into a Strata, Salad, or Midnight Snack. Adjust the amounts to suit your needs. The same goes for the type of potato you use. Red potatoes would be wonderful as would Yukon Golds…
Toss the chicken with the lemon pepper seasoning. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes or so. The chicken should be light golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve. Leave the drippings in the pan.
Add the onions to the pan and saute for 3 minutes or until the onions begin to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
While you prepare the vegetables, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than the package directs. Drain and set aside.
Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Toss frequently to insure even cooking. Add a little chicken broth if things seem dry.
Add the vermouth (or broth) and the juice of the lemon to the pan. Lower the heat slightly and allow to cook for 3 minutes or so.
Add the Italian seasoning and the lemon zest, stirring to combine. Return the chicken to the pan. Toss to mix evenly.
Add the olives, tomatoes, and pasta to the pan and continue to cook 3 minutes or so until everything is heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the feta cheese and serve.
Most of the time grill meals stand alone as do pasta meals. That changed the other night when the two meals collided. What could be better than pasta, grilled chicken and vegetables? It’s kind of the best of both/all worlds. This makes a wonderful dinner and the leftovers (if there are any) get better with a day or two in the frig.
The dressing does double duty acting as a marinade for the chicken and vegetables as well as the sauce for the finished dish. This can be eaten warm, at room temperature or throw it in the frig to get cold and call it pasta salad.
A few healthy words on the ingredients. Whole wheat pasta is really delicious. It turns out “al dente” just by it’s very nature. It’s bigger taste and texture allow smaller quantites to feel like more. Less pasta means more veggies and a big bowl of goodness for a lower calorie and carb investment. While there is a good bit of olive oil in the dressing/marinade, some goes away in the marinating process and when you split this dish four ways, the impact isn’t too serious.
Dressing: Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice into a container with a tight fitting lid. Add the balsamic, zest, mustard, and anchovy paste. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the jar. Mince the garlic on a cutting board. Add the salt and continue to chop/smash until a paste forms. Add this to the jar. Pour in the olive oil and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Shake vigorously until mixture is completely blended.
Place the chicken in a zip top bag. Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing and seal the bag. Squeeze to distribute dressing over chicken. chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Place the asparagus in another zip top bag and add 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Seal the bag. Turn and shake the bag to distribute the dressing over the asparagus. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Store the rest of the dressing in the refrigerator.
When it's time to grill, remove the chicken and asparagus from the frig. Peel the onion and cut it in half crosswise. Use two wooden skewers to hold the onion together. Brush with a little bit of the dressing. Grill the chicken and vegetables. (15-20 minutes or so). Remove to cutting boards when cooked.
Cook pasta in salted water until "al dente" while the chicken and vegetables grill.
Cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Roughly chop the olives. Tear the basil into small pieces
Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pasta. Cut the asparagus in thirds and add to the pasta bowl.
Add the tomatoes, olives, and basil to the bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the rest of the dressing to the bowl and toss once more to mix everything together.
Serve in pasta bowls topped with the crumbled Feta Cheese.