While I'm working on the summary post of Tess's first birthday party I thought I'd share some of the food we served and buy myself a bit of time (it's been a very busy couple weeks on the kindergarten front!). The menu for the party included tarragon grilled chicken and a chopped spinach salad with orzo and pinenuts. Both are fairly simple to prepare and much of it can be prepared ahead of time, but more importantly, these are go-to recipes for sharing and serving.
I have to credit my good friend Aimee for this amazing chicken marinade recipe. Seems a rare thing to find a chicken marinade with a lot of flavor and this one definitely has it. This is one of my favorites. I like to buy chicken breasts and then cut them into "tenders"-sized strips. They are quicker to cook and stay moist.
The marinade calls for:
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c dijon mustard
3 t dried tarragon
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Combine all ingredients and add to chicken in a ziploc bag. Marinate at least two hours but overnight is great. Pull the chicken out of the marinade and grill over medium heat (we heat the grill on high and then turn the middle burners down to medium) turning once until chicken is done. About 8-10 minutes.
Now for the salad. This spinach salad is fun to eat! So many good textures and crunch. You can combine all the ingredients except the spinach and the pinenuts a couple hours ahead of your meal and then add the spinach, pinenuts and dressing right before serving. The dressing is best if made ahead of time so it has at least two hours to mellow.
To assemble the salad, sice the spinach by holding a bunch of washed spinach leaves on a cutting board and slicing carefully. Combine with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Dress (go easy on the dressing and stop when the salad is coated to your taste) and serve!