Tastes Like Summer: Grilled Chicken and Pasta Salad With Fresh Strawberries, Basil and Gouda Cheese

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Wow! What a crazy week this has been! I feel like I have not been able to keep up. Which means my food choices have not been the greatest this week.

Today, I finally had a chance to get out and do some real grocery shopping. I have three stores that I tend to do my shopping at. Costco for the bulk stuff, Trader Joe’s for the unique stuff and wine and Fred Meyer (Kroger’s) for the staples.

My last stop for the day was at Trader Joe’s where they were doing some wine tasting. They had this wonderful Grenache Rose’ wine from the Rouge Valley in Oregon. A dry French style Rose’ that was deliciously fruity and bursting with flavors of strawberry, citrus and light floral notes.

I grabbed a couple of bottles ( A steal at $7.99 a bottle) and decided that this would be my inspiration for tonight’s meal.

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Since it was a beautiful warm sunny day, a nice light salad would be the perfect fix. I had already purchased a container of fresh strawberries at Costco, I just needed to roam the aisles for further inspiration.

On one of the end caps they had a display with this gorgeous, colorful pasta. Pasta salad it is! Perfetto!

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I picked up a few other ingredients that I thought would go nicely in my salad. Cheese, of course, fresh basil and some chicken breast.

Back at home, I pour a glass of wine and create. This salad ended up being the perfect compliment to the Rose’ that I had bought. Make it a day ahead for the perfect weeknight summer meal or pack it up for your next picnic outing.

Enjoy!

For the Grilled Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup Grenache rose’ wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh shallot
  • 1 clove minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

Place chicken breasts in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Seal bag and message around until marinade coats all of the chicken. marinate for at least 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade and grill over a medium flame until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees when thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat and let chicken rest 10-15 minutes before serving. this allows juices to redistribute throughout the chicken. Once chicken has rested slice and serve with pasta salad.

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 pound multi-colored spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil, washed and patted dry
  • 1/3 pound aged Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, quartered into slivers
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente’. Drain cooked pasta and cool with cold running water. Toss with a little olive oil to prevent from sticking. In a large bowl combine cooled pasta, shallots, strawberries, basil, cheese and olives. In another bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over pasta salad and toss to coat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:

Place some of the pasta salad into individual bowls top with some sliced grilled chicken and fresh basil sprig.

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Hawaiian Plate Lunch

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I am so glad that spring is finally here after the crazy winter that we have had this year.
It reminds me that Summer is right around the corner. And that means spending time with friends,outdoors, grilling.
One of my summertime favorites is Hawaiian BBQ. A friend of mine ( Julie) and her husband E.T.(Samoan/Hawaiian) have a BBQ every year and there is never a shortage of yummy Hawaiian fare. Pans are overflowing with grilled chicken, beef ribs and kalua pork, grilled vegetables, bowls filled with Macaroni salad and potato salad and a hot steaming rice cooker full of steamed rice. Someone always makes a big pot of Sapa Sui (Hawaiian Chop Suey) and Taro cooked in coconut milk.
 The guys bring their Guitars, Ukes, Drums  and other instruments and entertain us with the beautiful songs of the islands while we eat, drink and enjoy each others company sharing memories of times gone by and creating new ones. And laugh! ( there is never a shortage of laughter).

The first time I had ever had Hawaiian plate Lunch was with my friend Julie. We were at a Hawaiian restaurant watching her husband’s band that was playing there that night. My plate came to the table loaded with succulent grilled meats,  2 big scoops of rice and a scoop of creamy Macaroni salad. Once I tasted it I was hooked!

Plate Lunch basically consists of your choice of meat( grilled chicken, Kulua Pork, Portuguese sausage, Poki, etc..) 2 scoops of sticky rice and 1 scoop of macaroni salad. I have made this recipe with grilled teriyaki chicken. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Hawaiian Plate Lunch: Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

For the Chicken:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambal
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Place chicken thighs in a gallon sized ziploc bag. In a bowl, wisk together remaining ingredients to create marinade. Pour marinade in the bag with the chicken and massage it around so that all of the chicken is in the marinade. seal bag and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and cook on a hot grill turning as needed until chicken is cooked through. 165 degrees internal temperature on meat thermometer. Remove meat from the grill and cover  with foil. let meat rest 10 minutes before serving. Once meat has rested, slice and serve with rice and macaroni salad.

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For the Macaroni Salad:

  • 1/2 of a 1 pound package ( 1/2 pound) of elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup real mayonnaise (best foods)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic ( not garlic salt)

Cook macaroni until soft (not al dente) . drain and place back into pot. stir apple cider into cooked macaroni and let cool about 15 minutes. In a bowl, add celery, scallion and carrots. in another bowl mix remaining ingredients to make dressing. Place cooled macaroni in the bowl with vegetables and stir to combine. Add dressing and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Once salad has chilled, stir and serve

For the Rice:

  •  2 cups dry short grain rice

Rinse rice under cold water. Cook rice according to package directions. I cook mine in a rice cooker.