Red Chile Chicken & Cilantro Pesto Salad

chilechickenI love when I can pull a bunch of stuff out of the pantry or the freezer and whip up a healthy, delicious meal in under 30 minutes.  Of course, when that happens, usually some form of preparation has happened along the way; you can either buy prepared foods, thereby allowing a multi-national corporation into your kitchen, or you can do it yourself and know where your food came from, how it was prepared, and how it tasted at the peak of it’s season.

Tonight’s dinner was a veritable cornucopia of foods that were prepared at the height of harvest season: blanched & frozen green beans, red bell peppers and fresh corn, put by in August; chile peppers dried in September and made into Red Chile Glaze yesterday; cilantro pesto made with the garden’s last herbs and frozen back in November.  With the exception of the rice, and a little olive oil and lemon juice in the pesto and glaze, this meal is completely local; cleaning out the freezer never tasted so good!

The Red Chile Chicken was inspired by a similar recipe on  Elise.com.  The cilantro pesto salad was inspired by the contents of my freezer.

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Red Chile Chicken

INGREDIENTS

METHODS

  1. Rub the chicken breasts with salt. Place the breasts in a medium bowl and cover with the glaze; turn over breasts and make sure all sides, and the insides under the tenders, are well covered in glaze. 
  2. Marinate for 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Set the oven to broil, with a rack placed in the middle of the oven, and allow to pre-heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Spread aluminum foil over the top of a broiling pan and arrange chicken breasts on top of foil.  Cover tops of breasts with glaze (reserve some excess to coat the other side once you turn the breasts).
  5. Broil the chicken, turning once, until the glaze is bubbling and blackened, and the chicken is cooked through (170 degrees F on a meat thermometer), about 7 minutes per side.  If the breasts are large, they may not cook thoroughly before the glaze is blackened; if so, once glaze is blackened to your liking, lower the oven temp to 350 degrees F and bake chicken for an additional 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
  6. Remove chicken from the oven and let rest, tented under foil, for 5 minutes prior to serving.

Serves 3 to 4.

OPTIONS

  1. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts if you prefer dark meat.  I used bonless, skinless breasts here, but bone-in, skinned breasts would work equally as well.
  2. The fiery heat of the chile glaze tempers on cooking; if you love the spice, reserve a little of the glaze (prior to marinating the chicken) to serve alongside, or on top of, the cooked chicken.

STORE

Cooked chicken will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

SEASON

 Year round.

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Cilantro Pesto Salad

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed, (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced to 1 inch (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp cilantro pesto
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

METHODS

  1. Cook rice (add 1/2 cup rice to 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt; simmer over low heat until rice absorbs all the liquid, 20-40 minutes). Set aside.
  2. If vegetables are frozen, place corn and green beans in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a medium saucepan.  Steam until heated through & tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer corn & green beans to a medium bowl; add bell peppers to steamer basket.  Steam only long enough to thaw and heat through (about 1 minute). Add to corn & green beans.
  3. Add 1 cup of rice to vegetables. Mix well; add cilantro pesto, salt & pepper.  Mix, taste and adjust seasonings, and set aside until chicken is ready.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 3 to 4.

OPTIONS

  1. To make the meal 100% local, you could substitute local white beans or homemade, local wheat pasta, for the rice. Substitutions for olive oil and lemon juice are difficult; see cilantro pesto recipe for suggestions.

STORE

 In the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

SEASON

Year round with frozen veggies, Summer with fresh.

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