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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry California: Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads


We've been celebrating and enjoying time with our youngest son, Jaryd, and his girlfriend, Ana, in sunny California. It's been Cali-cool, in many wonderful ways. 

The gift of time with them is cool, which we all are short of most of the year -- but it is plentiful now and not to be taken lightly or for granted. 

The gift of sun (and yes, the pun too) is well, warm, and cool, :) and not to be underestimated. 

And then, unexpectedly, the gift of rain came trickling down. That kind of cool is very much needed here. As we went to pick out the Christmas tree it poured and so an iconic song of my youth is "It Never Rains in California, But Man It Pours"  rang through me. It has rained three times, since we arrived, but I don't think its officially El Nino season yet.

That rain influences another cool gift for sure, cooking together! We have a list of cookies that are special to both of our families, as well as making croissants from scratch, and I look forward to the ins and outs of folding, mixing, and seeing the beautiful Cranberry Bliss Bars side by side with Jam Thumbprint Cookies on a plate. I have so much to learn, and share!

Last night Ana and I headed to the kitchen; inspired by the coming days of cookie baking, ingredients in their pantry, their Farm Fresh to You CSA box, (how cool is that?) and recent episodes of Chopped! we created a unique dinner of Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads ~ Quinoa Lentil ~ Raw Cauliflower ~ Arugula Mint ~ Dressed with Creamy Carrot Top Dressing which will gift us with leftovers while we finish up Christmas preparations, and begin, I hope, singing.

Thank you, Ana and Jaryd, for your very warm gift of time. (And Farm Fresh To You carrot tops!)



Creamy Carrot Top Dressing 



Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads

Cumin Roast Chicken with Three Wise Salads ~ Quinoa Lentil ~ Raw Cauliflower ~ Arugula Mint ~ Dressed with Creamy Carrot Top Dressing

Cumin Roast Chicken
1 bone-in Art’s Meat Market and Deli chicken breast
1 teaspoon each salt, oregano, cumin, coriander and crushed red pepper

Quinoa Lentil Salad
2 cups quinoa, washed and rinsed
2 cups green lentils
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon each crushed red pepper, oregano, and cumin
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
stems from 1 bunch of kale, finely chopped
hearts of 4 farm fresh to you carrots, chopped

Rice Vinegar Dressing
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup rice vinegar
½ cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Raw Cauliflower Salad
½ red onion, finely chopped
5 carrots, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped medium fine
1 bunch kale, destemmed and chiffonade

Basil Garlic Lime Vinaigrette
Juice of 5 limes
8 cloves of garlic, salted and minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup of fresh chopped basil

Arugula and Mint Salad
1 bunch arugula, chopped
few sprigs of mint, chopped
½ head green leaf lettuce, chopped

Creamy Carrot Top Dressing
carrot tops from 4 farm fresh to you carrots, washed
½ cup each yogurt and olive oil and orange juice
½ cup pumpkin seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 small handful cilantro, washed
salt and pepper to taste

Begin with the Cumin Roast Chicken as that takes the longest. Combine the salt and spices in a small bowl and rub mixture into the skin of the chicken breast.

Place rubbed chicken breast in a glass casserole, skin side up, and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. Leave cool and then remove meat from bones and set aside for serving.

Make the Quinoa Lentil Salad:

Combine 2 cups/12 oz/340 g of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a medium saucepan. bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lentils, and the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock and cook another 15 minutes. At the end of this time add in the chopped kale stems and the chopped carrot remains. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes, then turn off the heat. the quinoa and lentils should tender but not mushy, and you should be able to see the little quinoa curlicues.

Transfer while warm to a large mixing bowl and add the ingredients of the Rice Vinegar Dressing directly onto the warm lentils and quinoa. Stir and mix. Taste and adjust if needed. Set this salad aside for serving.

With the Quinoa Lentil Salad done and the Cumin Roast Chicken still roasting, begin the Raw Cauliflower Salad. Chop your red onion, cauliflower, and chiffonade the kale and place all in a pretty serving bowl. Ribbon the carrots using the vegetable peeler, and then chop the pile of ribboned carrots slightly and fold into the salad. Prepare the Basil, Garlic, and Lime Vinaigrette, then dress and toss with the Raw Cauliflower and friends. Set this Raw Cauliflower Salad aside with the Quinoa Lentil Salad, both ready to serve.

Wash and chop the Arugula Mint Salad and set aside in a third pretty bowl for serving.

In the last moments before dinner, make the Creamy Carrot Top Dressing in the blender. Super simple, toss everything in the blender and give it a whir. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Suggested Serving. Let each person serve themselves, but one way to build your salad is to lay down some Arugula Mint Salad, then a bit of the Quinoa Lentil Salad, then Raw Cauliflower Salad, and finally the Cumin Roast Chicken topped with the Creamy Carrot Top Dressing.

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