I remember when I first came to live in the United States. I was living with a wonderful American family on a farm in Idaho. A big, huge change. There were lots of fresh produce available of course, especially in the summer. That’s when I was introduced to salads. Don’t get me wrong, salads are eaten all over the world but usually not as a meal. It’s almost always eaten as part of a meal, like a side dish or even a palate cleanser or like a condiment. In North America the salad reigns as a meal. That was a strange thing for me. To eat an entire meal that was mostly raw. I remember telling my mom about having a salad for dinner and she exclaimed in dismay, “can’t those people cook?”. After I got over the initial shock, I grew to love salads. I love the textures, the freshness and the variety. They are never going to go over big in any part of South Asia as a meal but I’m winning people over, one at a time.
I had this just the other day. It was great and refreshing after a hard workout! Yes, Ma…I ate it as a meal.
Thinly sliced radishes, english cucumbers and some mangoes
Added the vinaigrette
Toss, chill and serve
Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad
4 fresh radishes, thinly sliced
1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Mango, cut into small bite sized pieces
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
Thinly slice cucumber, radishes and mangoes and place in a medium sized bowl. Add chopped cilantro. In a separate bowl zest the lime and then juice the whole lime. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until a thick emulsion is created. Pour over salad and toss. Chill and serve.
The last several days were like a blur. I made too many cookies, ate things other people made that I didn’t like (green bean casserole with little hot dog chunks, bad jello salad with beet pieces and funeral potatoes – that’s a Utah thing ), skipped meals, ran around doing a million things. It was busy, it was hectic, it was crazy. But today, I wanted to come home and eat something I made because dang it, my worst effort had to be better than a casserole made of macerated hot dogs (I have HUGE issues with hot dogs, it’s a long story). I had leftover baked chicken from last night and a couple of Zucchinis in the fridge. I decided it would be great to take out my mandolin (the cooking kind, not the musical instrument) and use the zucchini as the noodle and make some kind of a filling with the chicken and other veggies. It turned out pretty great and it was fast too. Total time with prep and baking under 45 minutes. It sure beats the beet jello salad (pun intended).
Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan
Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter and stir until smooth
Stir fry a few minutes to get the flour taste out
Add milk and bring to a gentle simmer until sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
Add Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir to melt
Saute all vegetables and spices in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil
Mix sauteed vegetables with cooked chopped chicken
Add 2/3 of the Bechamel sauce to the chicken mixture, reserve a third for the topping
Roll about 2 tablespoons of filling into each zucchini slice and place in a baking dish
For individual servings, place about three rollatinis inside a ramekin
Put the remaining sauce on the rollatini and sprinkle with a little Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Do the same with if using ramekins
Bake and serve!
Serve and enjoy!
Here’s the recipe:
Zucchini Chicken Rollatini
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 young zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise (use ends and pieces chopped up as part of the filling)
1/4 cup red onions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
salt to taste
1 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked chicken
Bechamel or White Sauce
2 cups 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese and a little extra to sprinkle on top
Begin by making the sauce
In a small sauce pan heat butter and add flour. Stir until flour is blended and smooth and floury taste is gone (a couple of minutes). Slowly add in the milk and keep stirring. Sauce should thicken as it gently comes to a simmer. Don’t let it get too thick since it will be cooked again in the main dish. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg stir well and turn off the heat. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir until melted (the residual heat will melt all the cheese). Set aside.
Making the Rollatini and Filling:
Slice the zucchini lengthwise using a mandolin. It should be nice and thin (bending easily). Don’t get too close to the end because you’ll chop off your fingers, even with a blade guard! The extra zucchini ends and pieces can be chopped up and used in the filling.
In a skillet heat the olive oil and add all the vegetables, including the zucchini extra pieces. Add salt, pepper, garlic and basil and stir fry for a few minutes until vegetables are tender. Add cooked vegetables to the cooked, chopped chicken and mix well. Add 2/3 of the Bechamel sauce to the mixture reserving about a 1/3 for the topping.
Place about 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture at one end of the zucchini strip and roll into a little roll. Place each rollatini in a small 8 x 8 baking dish or if making individual servings, place 3 rollatinis in individual ramekins. Cover the rollatini with the remaining Bechamel sauce and sprinkle a little Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown on the top. (Ramekins will only take about 18-20 minutes to bake). Enjoy.