Bella’s Table — April/May 2015

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Estella with her Strawberry Pie.
Estella with her Strawberry Pie.

By Estella Tullgren

Soon it will be time for several celebrations — Easter, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day. This is the perfect time to start grilling. In this issue, there are two pasta dishes that make a perfect side dish. The fresh strawberry pie is a great dessert anytime. And aren’t you always looking for a new way to prepare chicken? The Lemon Thyme Baked Chicken is so, so flavorful. Bon appetit!

Fresh Strawberry Pie
6-8 slices
This is one of our favorite pies—and one of the easiest to make. Of course, whipped cream is a must to serve with it.

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ of a 3-ounce package strawberry gelatin
1 baked 9-inch pie shell, cooled (homemade or store bought)
At least 1 quart of fresh strawberries

Blend cornstarch and sugar. Combine in saucepan with water. Cook, stirring until thickened for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat; sprinkle in gelatin and stir until dissolved.

Clean, hull, and slice berries. Pour gelatin mixture over strawberries and toss gently. Pour into baked pie shell and chill for at least 4 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.


Spinach and Chicken Pasta with Teriyaki Vinagrette
Spinach and Chicken Pasta with Teriyaki Vinagrette

Spinach and Chicken Pasta with Teriyaki Vinagrette
Serves 8-10
After making this the first time, this pasta salad became my new favorite. The mandarin oranges add a freshness to the salad, and it can be made vegetarian easily by omitting the chicken. I sometimes make the dressing by itself to use on other salads.

1 cup canola oil
1/3 to 2/3 cup bottled teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

16-ounce mini bowtie pasta, cooked according to directions
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach
1 5-ounce bag craisins
2 11-ounce cans mandarin orange slices, drained
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and slivered
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
4 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 ounces honey roasted peanuts, optional
2 cups cooked chicken, tossed with 2-3 tablespoons teriyaki vinagrette (I use a store-bought roasted chicken)

In blender, combine all dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Mix about 1 cup dressing with pasta in a large bowl and marinate for at least an hour.

Combine the remaining salad ingredients in another large bowl.
Just before serving, add pasta and toss. Add dressing to taste and mix all together. Serve immediately.


Lemon Thyme Baked Chicken
Lemon Thyme Baked Chicken

Lemon Thyme Baked Chicken
Serves 2-4
This is one of the most flavorful chicken dishes I have ever made. As I do with many chicken recipes that call for using chicken breasts, I substitute chicken thighs. The garlic and lemon flavors compliment each other perfectly.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme
salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
1 lemon

Warm olive oil in small saucepan, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Off heat, add wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt, and pour into a 9X12 baking dish.

Pat chicken pieces dry and place skin side up on top of sauce. Brush chicken with the sauce. Cut lemon in 8 wedges and tuck around chicken.

Bake 40-45 minutes until skin is browned. Remove from oven, cover pan tightly with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite side dish.


Basil, Garlic and Tomato  Angel Hair Pasta Salad
Basil, Garlic and Tomato
Angel Hair Pasta Salad

Basil, Garlic and Tomato Angel Hair Pasta Salad
Serves 6-8
These ingredients are one of my most favorite combinations—basil, garlic, and tomatoes. Pair this combo with pasta and you have a winner in my book. If you are like me, you can’t have too many tomatoes! When summer tomatoes are here, I don’t even seed and dice them—I just chop and use tomatoes of various colors.

1 pound angel hair pasta
½ cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 4-ounce package pine nuts, lightly toasted
Coarse salt

Boil water for pasta. Add some salt. Then add pasta and cook al dente—abut 4 minutes. Drain pasta and place in serving bowl.

While pasta is boiling, sauté garlic in olive oil until sizzling and very lightly browned (don’t burn or garlic will taste bitter.) Pour garlic and oil over warm pasta and toss. Sprinkle a teaspoon of coarse salt over pasta and add 1 cup of parmesan. Toss again. Let noodles cool a bit.

Right before serving, top pasta with diced tomatoes, pine nuts, chopped basil, and remaining ½ cup parmesan. Toss lightly and serve immediately. If the mixture is a bit dry, just add a dash more olive oil. M! April/Mary 2015

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