I know it sounds confusing……but it’s really not. It’s a Monday Mmm Mmm Mmm, Recipe Review and Love Your Leftovers post all rolled into one!!! Except….oh, no….the holiday weekend has messed me up…..Jeff just reminded me, IT’S NOT MONDAY. Ugh….Ok, so it’s a Tuesday Mmm Mmm Mmm, Recipe Review and Love Your Leftovers post!!!
Coming up with new and creative ideas for dinner can be just as difficult for someone with a passion for cooking, eating and entertaining as it is for the Average Jane or Average Joe. Sometimes the creativity just isn’t there and/or sometimes you just don’t feel like cooking. But when you’ve got leftovers on hand and you’ve just tried a RRREEEAAALLLYYY good recipe, it’s a bit easier.
On Sunday Jeff and I went the home of our friends Lu and Mark for a cookout. A bunch of folks gathered for an impromptu celebration of Mark’s birthday. And of course, when friends get together you can count on two things – at least with our group of friends – lots of laughs and some darn good food.
Lu made an appetizer platter with a few new-to-her recipes including Pickled Deviled Eggs and Pickled Brussel Sprouts – both mmm mmm mmm. I made an Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa recipe that I recently wrote about when our friends Barb and Scott invited us to their lovely home for dinner. The recipe is Crostini with Whipped Feta and Tomatoes…….I raved about it when Barb made it and my friends raved about it when I did too!
Lu and Mark also grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, Maureen and Andy brought their yummy mac and cheese, Ev and Jeff brought peach cobbler, and Tim and Jack ran out for glazed donuts when everyone was talking about the Luther Burger craze. Luther Burgers are allegedly named for Luther Vandross and are cheeseburgers served on sliced glazed donuts.
Well, my assessment of the Luther Burger – five M’s – MMMMM!
But I digress……
Tonight I was stumped about what to make for dinner, so I did what all self-respecting cooks do when they don’t know what to make….I stood in front of the open fridge hoping inspiration would jump out at me….and it did. I spied the container with the leftover whipped feta, a package of chicken, the leftover marinated tomatoes and a head of broccoli Jeff picked from the garden yesterday.
Here’s what I did:
1. I cut the chicken into cutlets – with my palm on top of the chicken piece and my knife parallel to the cutting board I cut on a very slightly downward angle (to avoid the knife going into my hand). Then I pounded the cutlets, breaded them (first in seasoned flour, then in egg wash, and finally in seasoned bread crumbs), shallow fried them and set them on paper towels to drain.
2. I ran out to the garden to pick a few extra tomatoes and followed Ina’s recipe to make some extra marinated tomatoes.
3. I made the pesto with some arugula, spinach, the broccoli, lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I tasted it for seasoning and then set a pot of water on the stove to boil so I could cook the pasta.
4. While the water boiled and the pasta cooked, I spread the remaining whipped feta onto the cooked chicken cutlets and placed them in a 250 degree F oven to stay warm and for the cheese to soften.
Just after I drained the pasta and mixed in the pesto, I heard the garage door go up. Jeff’s timing is exceptional – particularly when food is involved! While he changed, I plated our food – the pesto pasta next to the feta smeared chicken, which I topped with the marinated tomatoes. We both raved dinner and Jeff complimented me on taking Ina’s Crostini recipe and adapting it for a main course.
As far as the recipe goes, Barefoot Contessa’s Crostini with Whipped Feta and Tomatoes gets 5 M’s out of 5!
It is easy to make, takes only a few ingredients, yields incredible flavor, pleases a crowd, adapts well to other preparations and holds well for leftovers!!! So, whether it’s Monday or Tuesday, I hope you love your leftovers, try a new recipe and end up with an MmmMmmMmm!!!!!
Barefoot Contessa Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
- 6oz good feta cheese (crumbled)
- 2oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 2/3 cups good olive oil (divided)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed (I also used the zest of one whole lemon))
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons shallots (minced (2 shallots))
- 2 teaspoons garlic (minced (2 cloves))
- 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
- 2lb ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes (1/2 inch dice)
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (julienned)
- 20 - 25 diagonal baguette slices (toasted)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)
||For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. |
||Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth. |
||For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. |
||Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. |
||Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. |
||Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings. |
||To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve. |