Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cooking: Tarragon Grilled Chicken and Chopped Spinach Salad with Orzo and Pinenuts



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.

Salad:
20 oz fresh spinach leaves
8 oz orzo pasta (cooked according to directions and drained)
3.8 oz sliced olives
2/3 c. toasted pinenuts (I cheat and toast mine in the microwave for about 90 seconds)
1/4 c. capers
4 cups halved grape tomatoes
6.5 oz sundried tomatoes, sliced in 1/8" strips (can be in oil or dried)
1 c parmesan cheese

Dressing:

3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 t salt (sea salt is preferable)
1 t freshly ground pepper
3/4 c olive oil

To make the salad dresssing, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Let sit for two hours.

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!

4 comments:

Erica said...

This looks delicious!!! Adding it to my dinner menu for next week!

@jenhalloran said...

Yum! Excited to try both recipes -- those Mediterranean flavors in the salad sound perfect.

Seaweed and Raine said...

Oh Yum! This one sounds delicious!!! :) I'm sure it disappeared pretty quickly.

chickadeeworkshop said...

I got around to trying your Tarragon Chicken recipe tonight and it was fantastic! I always appreciate your beautiful photography and the artistry of your blog, so I linked directly to your recipe post on my blog.

If you'd like to check out my post, you may visit me here: http://chickadeeworkshop.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/tarragon-chicken/

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