Gourmet (July 2009)
Ladies and gentlemen, start your vegetable engines!
Summer vegetables in our region are coming into their prime season, with tomatoes now appearing at the market along with mounting piles of plentiful cucumbers, squash and zucchini.
It's happened at our house, for sure.
Our CSA kicked in big time this week. Last week, we decided to forgo our share because we had several nights of plans that kept us from cooking at home and we didn't want to let our veggies go to waste.
So this week we were able to get a double share. And we brought home quite a haul!
So it's time to get cooking!
Knowing that zucchini was on its way, we had dog-eared the recipe for Chicken Breasts with Zucchini Pappardelle from Gourmet magazine. Advertised as an easy summer dish that could be completed in 30 minutes, we were glad to give it a whirl.
There's no pasta in this pappardelle. Instead, thin ribbons of zucchini stand in the place of pasta.
To achieve these ribbons the recipe recommends using a mandoline. We did, since we have the Oxo Good Grips Mandoline Slicer, but we also think that you could achieve the same effect with a wide vegetable peeler. And if you don't have a wide vegetable peeler, you could use a thin vegetable peeler and just have thinner, fettuccini-like strips.
No matter what method you use, the imperative here is that you slice the zucchini extremely thinly, since the zucchini is not actually cooked. Instead, after cooking the chicken, you simply make a quick sauce using the pan juices and toss it with the zucchini, basil and chicken. The heat of the sauce and the meat wilts the zucchini strips.
The only substitution we made was that we used split, bone-in chicken breasts in place of boneless. This increased our cooking time slighty but worked just as well.
The final dish is delish and elegant. If we had any qualms with the dish, it's that we thought the zucchini might taste better warm. Perhaps we could have warmed it by actually adding it to the pan with the sauce rather than tossing it in the bowl. We'll definitely try that the next time we make this dish.
Now, what are we going to do with the rest of these vegetables? We'd better get cooking!
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active time: 20 min
Total time: 30 min
* 1 pound zucchini, trimmed
* 2 garlic cloves
* 4 boneless chicken breast halves with skin (1 1/2 pounds)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 cup torn basil leaves
* Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer
* Accompaniment: lemon wedges
Shave zucchini lengthwise (1/8 inch thick) with slicer and put in a large bowl. Thinly slice garlic and reserve separately.
Pat chicken dry, then cut crosswise into thirds. Season all over with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sauté chicken in batches, skin side down first, until browned and just cooked through, 8 to 14 minutes total. Add chicken to zucchini.
Add garlic to skillet and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Add water and scrape up any brown bits, then drizzle over chicken. Add basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt to bowl and toss until zucchini wilts slightly. Season with salt and pepper.