Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Jill. Jill’s husband is Dominican and she talked about her big family dinner party she had on Saturday night for her in-laws and other relatives. She recently moved from a co-op to a house in NJ with two young kids, so this was a special dinner with both sides of the family in her new home. Her food was met with rave reviews!
Then she talked about her mother-in-law’s “special sauce.” She said they all have one in the Dominican Republic – the aunts – everyone – and they’re all a bit different. She does not know what’s in it – the fast talking Spanish makes it hard. But it seems like it’s vegetables and all goodness, and sounds like a lot of LOVE. Her husband brings home food from his mother’s house – simple things – like quinoa – but with the special sauce they are spectacular. I asked her if it was tomato based – no. Was it like a chimichurri – no. But her mother-in-law was so respectful of Jill, telling her son, oh well Jill certainly has her “own sauce” and she wouldn’t want to intrude. Larry laughed and said no, Jill doesn’t have a sauce. She said she tried to make one once and it was inedible. So she uses a great bottled sauce that her mother-in-law loved (thought it was her “special sauce”) on the grilled skirt steak she served.
Boy would I love to have that woman’s “special sauce” recipe or be a fly on her kitchen wall when she’s making it!
Meanwhile, last night, being tired and hungry, I used some “bottled sauces” and actually made a very good dinner. It didn’t look all so pretty, but it was darn tasty. I made the chicken and the squash all in the same baking pan, roasting all at once – easy! Providing you have the pesto sauce already made, you can honestly make this whole dinner in about 40 minutes. Really!! – no Rachel Ray joke.
CHICKEN BREASTS WITH GRAINY MUSTARD, JALAPENO & LIME - serves 3 – 4
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbs. grainy mustard
6 slices of fresh jalapeno pepper
6 slices of fresh lime
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wash and pat dry the chicken, trimming off any fat. Slick a baking pan with a little olive oil. Place chicken breasts on the pan, and brush 1 tbs. of grainy mustard on the top of each. Lightly salt them and place 2 jalapeno slices on top of each. Then cover each jalapeno slice with a lime slice. Roast for 15 – 22 minutes, until the thickest part registers 155 – 160 degrees. Remove to a platter and let rest for 5 – 8 minutes. Lightly drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil on top and serve.
SQUASH WITH TAMARIND CONCENTRATE – serves 4
2 squash – I zucchini and 1 yellow
4 tsp. tamarind concentrate
Wash and trim ends of squash. Cut lengthwise and score with crosshatching. Paint one tsp. of tamarind concentrate on each half and salt lightly. Roast at 475 degrees for 25 minutes or until crisp tender. Remove to a serving plate and lightly drizzle olive oil on top and serve.
I served with this with brown rice pasta topped with some pesto sauce I had taken out of the freezer yesterday along with some farmer’s market sunny gold tomatoes, sliced in half. It was yummy – a dinner my husband talked about again this morning!