If you like kitchens, puttering about — even if you are organizing, not cooking — can be immensely satisfying.
In recent weeks, I’ve cleaned out cabinets and rearranged drawers. There’s a lot more to do and that’s what I was happily doing (to the scent of a candle and the sounds of smooth jazz) until I realized it was time to think about supper.
Saturday nights chez nous are generally pretty casual: Hamburgers, pizza, soup, etc. are the rule, not the exception.
Tonight I was governed by what needed to be consumed before it got too old to eat and what could be cleared from the freezer to make way for the turkey my husband’s company gives employees every year.
Two chicken breasts, odd bits of cheese, nearly empty jar of black olives and sun-dried tomato spread and fresh leaf lettuce and Roma tomatoes = Italian Chicken Salad.
Cut the chicken (I always trim the fat away, of course) into bite size chunks and marinate in Italian or sun-dried or roasted pepper dressing. Add about a tablespoon of sun-dried tomatoes or tomato spread to the marinade. Cover and set the marinade dish in the refrigerator for about two hours.
Saute the chicken in olive oil with Mediterranean herbs under medium to low heat. Take your time. Cook it slowly so it will be tender.
While the chicken is cooking, tear up your lettuce, slice your tomatoes, halve or slice your olives. Cut or crumble your cheese: I used feta and mozzarella.
I found a jar of pine nuts that tasted a bit stale. To remedy this, I roasted them with a dash of olive oil and Tuscan herbs in a 200-degree toaster oven.
Once the nuts are roasted and the chicken is cooked, assemble your salad and drizzle with oil-and-vinegar dressing. Serve with hard, chewy dinner rolls.
The salad is quite spicy so I paired it with a dry and fruity chardonnay.
I've long had this theory that a simple table is an elegant table. So I rarely serve too many things at once. This is about right for an evening meal, in my opinion.