On the Table Today: Parmesan Herb Crusted Zucchini Sticks and Chicken Piccata
It's summer gardening season! Fresh produce abounds this time of year, and I am always in pursuit of good recipes to take advantage of all the sumptuous fruits and succulent vegetables that are available. If you grow Zucchini or tomatoes, you have to have recipes on hand when they go nuts in the garden.
No, I don't garden, actually. Never had the patience for it. I spent plenty of time as a kid gardening, though. My mother had two enormous gardens on the farm -- one for fruits (strawberries, grapes, rhubarb, black raspberries) and another for veggies (everything from asparagus to Jerusalem Artichokes). She still loves gardening. That gene seems to have skipped a generation. Luckily for me, there's a wonderful farmer's market where I live, and gardener friends from my church often share their bounty with us non-gardeners. I'm taking about you, Whitney, Erin, and Harriet!
Today I have a really tasty zucchini recipe for you and a chicken dish that goes well with it. Both dishes have an Italian flair, but are also good for you. Hey, it's summer, and eating healthier is easy this time of year. Oh, by the way, both these dishes are gluten free. I didn't plan it that way, I just noticed when I finished preparing dinner that the meal would work for those following a gluten free diet.
Parmesan Herb Crusted Zucchini Sticks
3 or 4 young Zucchini, 6-8 inches in length
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon (or more, if you like) fresh cracked black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray*
Cut each zucchini in half, then each half into quarters, lengthwise. Place zucchini sticks in a colander in the sink and toss them with the salt. Let the zucchini sticks drain their excess liquid for at least five minutes (ten is better). Meanwhile, mix cheese, oregano, and pepper in a gallon sized zip lock baggie and shake until well mixed. Dry the veggies off with paper toweling. Put zucchini in a large bowl and toss them with the egg white until well coated. Drop zucchini sticks into the baggie of Parmesan mixture. Shake the baggie until all the veggies are well coated. Place the zucchini sticks onto a sheet pan or a baking rack (on a sheet pan) which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray all the zucchini pieces with olive oil spray. Bake for about ten minutes on the upper rack of an oven which has been preheated to 400 degrees. Pull the zucchini out when they are browned to your liking. Serves four.
* I have a nifty pump spray bottle from Pampered Chef that I can use for spraying vegetable or olive oil. No chemicals, and it's less expensive than the cans.
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced*
1/4 white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons drained capers
Cut each breast into 3 or 4 slices, depending on size. Pound each piece fairly thinly (but not so thin is breaks apart) with a meat mallet. Sprinkle salt over chicken pieces. Use a gallon size baggie to shake the chicken pieces in 1/2 cup of the rice flour until well coated. Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Add the oil and quickly add the chicken pieces to the skillet in and even layer. Don't crowd them - fry the chicken in two batches if necessary. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Turn heat down to medium. Add garlic to hot pan and stir it around. Deglaze pan with wine and broth. Add lemon zest and pepper. Mix remaining rice flour with lemon juice and add mixture to the pan. Cook sauce until it thickens, stirring constantly. Add capers. Put chicken pieces into sauce in pan and cooks for 2 or 3 more minutes. Turn the chicken pieces at least once in the sauce. Serve the chicken on a platter-- not the same one that the chicken rested on earlier. To complete the meal, serve chicken with the Parmesan Herb Zucchini sticks and a plate of thickly sliced garden-ripe tomatoes topped with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a few leaves of fresh basil scattered on top. Serves four.
* Instead of mincing garlic, I grate it right into the pan using a micro-plane. It's quick and easy!