While this heat wave we’ve been having here on the East coast has been trying, to say the least, I love this time of year, with the bounty from the garden, which will be ending soon. (The lettuce is about to bolt and this extreme heat is not helping.) Here’s the lettuce and nasturtiums I cut from my little garden last Sunday.
And here is our Tuesday night dinner.
This is how you can make a quick, easy and super delicious weeknight dinner. If you think a little bit ahead, it’s a breeze, you won’t heat up your kitchen, and it’s light and healthy. Perfect for this time of year and particularly during this heat wave.
On Sunday, before I went on an hour-long bike ride, I threw a bunch of golden beets in the oven to roast. Those guys cooked and I was out of the hot kitchen! Now you all probably know how to roast beets, but just in case, here a little recipe. Beets are a great vegetable because you get two in one!! You can roast the beets and then sauté the beet stems and greens in olive oil with garlic. I almost like the greens better than the beets, and you don’t have to cook them at the same time. Beets, refrigerated will keep a long time, the greens, not so much, so use those sooner rather than later and come back here soon to see how I used them in another layered vegetable dish that was loaded with fresh flavors. Some grocery stores are now even selling prepackaged beet greens. I prefer to get the real thing, attached to organically grown beets. Who knows what they put in those bags to make them last longer in the grocery stores.
ROASTED BEETS – serves 2 – 4
1 bunch of golden or red beets
1 Tbs. olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 375 – 425 degrees. You can roast them anywhere in this range. I like to use 400 degrees. At the lower heat, they will just take longer to become tender.
Trim the beets from the greens, scrub with a vegetable brush and dry with a paper towel. Place in the center of a good-sized piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and draw up the foil to seal and make a neat packet. Place the packet in an oven proof dish (because the beets may leak and make a mess in your oven) and roast for one hour. Remove, open packet and test. A skewer should pierce the beet easily and completely. If not, put back in for 10 more minutes or so.
Once done and cool enough to handle, peel the beets and use immediately or refrigerate in a covered container and use within four or five days. They rewarm easily in a microwave as well.
Here was our dinner on Sunday night, when I made Provençal chicken legs with oven roasted broccoli and mushrooms. This is easy too! I made four leg and thigh pieces for the two of us, so we could have the two dinners.
For the broccoli and mushrooms, toss those with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes while you’re roasting the chicken.
PROVENÇAL CHICKEN LEGS – serves 4 or 2 for two dinners
4 chicken leg and thigh pieces, with skin and bones
1 Tbs. each of chopped fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, and mint leaves
1 Tbs. fresh lavender flowers (optional) or 1.5 tsp. dried
2 – 3 Tbs. olive oil
4 dried bay leaves
4 lemon slices, seeded
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and dry your chicken legs. Mix together chopped fresh herbs with the lavender, salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 1 – 2 Tbs. of olive oil to moisten and make a paste. Carefully loosen the skin on the chicken on one side and place one bay leaf and one-quarter (about 1 Tbs.) of the herb mixture under the skin and spread around underneath. Make sure the skin is still attached in one or two places. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
Heat the remaining tbs. of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet on medium high heat. Place in chicken legs, skin side down, and brown for 5 minutes. When nicely browned, turn legs over and place one lemon slice on each leg. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the meat registers 160 degrees with an instant read thermometer. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
DINNER SALAD FOR A WEEKNIGHT HEAT WAVE – serves 2
Tender lettuce – Bibb or mesclun or homegrown
4 golden beets, roasted
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts – oven toast at 350 degrees for 6 – 8 minutes
Greek feta cheese
2 Provençal roasted chicken legs and thighs
2 nasturtiums (optional)
Warm the chicken legs in a microwave for 1 -2 minutes, depending on how powerful your microwave is. Warm beets in the microwave for 1 minute. Cut each beet into 4 or 6 wedges, depending on the size of the beets. Place lettuce on a dinner plate. Place the chicken leg on top in the middle, pour any juices on top. Arrange the cut beets around the leg, as well some crumbled feta cheese and the toasted pine nuts. Drizzle on the sherry vinaigrette and serve right away. Enjoy!!! You will LOVE this!!