Friday, September 3, 2010

Gourmet Goddess welcomes Spring

Nothing signals the start of Spring to me more than the sight of fresh asparagus. I love this time of year when so many of my favourite fruits and vegetables start coming into season. As the season progresses, the quality and supply gets better and the price drops - you have to love that! I am a devotee seasonal eating. I've never understood why eating the same food all year round is perceived as a good idea. In order to eat food out of season, we are required to ship food from long distances, with all the negative environmental impact that has, as well as sacrificing quality and increasing price. Eating seasonally makes sense for your tastebuds, your wallet and the environment too.

It is really worth going online and researching what is in season at particular times of the year and planning menus around that. I always include seasonal suggestions on the right hand side of my blog page, so you may also want to start there for ideas. When buying produce, always check the origin - if your grocer doesn't diplay this information, then ask why - they should. Same goes for seafood and meat. Food that has travelled a long way has not only contributed to more carbon emissions, but has also been handled multiple times to get to you - quality can only suffer. Buy close to home as much as you possibly can to get the very best produce and to do your bit to minimise negative environmental impacts.

Now, to today's recipe - This dish is so simple to make, but is also pretty enough to serve at a dinner party. I love the effect of the sage leaves through the veil of proscuitto. Juicy chicken, salty proscuitto, the lovely herbal aroma of sage and a garlic infused, buttery mozzerella centre make this Italian inspired dish one that you and your guests will love. I served this dish last night with some asparagus (of course!) - I just threw the asparagus spears in a grill pan for a couple of minutes with a touch of olive oil and salt and pepper. Don't forget to chop off the thick, woody ends before you cook them.

To accompany the asparagus, I chopped up some baby roma tomatoes and black olives, which I seasoned well with salt and pepper and tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and a little balsamic. The whole meal was done in under half an hour. Perfect to throw together after work when you don't have a lot of time. This dish would also go well with grillled vegetables - zucchini and eggplant would be great, or an Italian inspired salad - think cos, rocket or  radicchio leaves, basil, roasted capsicums, olives, artichokes, fetta or bocconcini cheese - whatever is in season. Give it a try - it is maximum flavour and presentation with minimum effort.

Chicken with proscuitto & sage
served with grilled asparagus and baby roma tomato and olive salad

You will need:
2 chicken breasts, 6 slices proscuitto, 10 sage leaves, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon grated mozzerella cheese, salt and pepper.

Trim any fat off the chicken breasts and gently cut a pocket along the length of the breast, taking care not to cut right through. You want the chicken to still be in one piece.

Finely chop 2 of the sage leaves and combine with the cheese, butter and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the mixture into the pocket you have made in the chicken breast. Repeat with the second one.

Lay 4 sage leaves on top of each of the chicken breasts and then wrap the chicken in 3 pieces of proscuitto each. Tuck under any stray bits of proscuitto so that the surface is smooth.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Some of the butter will flow out of the chicken - use this to gently baste the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving and drizzle over the remaining pan juices.


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