Fall Can Still Be Fresh

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As the weather gets colder we can tend to fall into food patterns. The Fall & Winter months tend to leave us craving heavier foods like pasta and chili. It becomes a little harder to move past easily roasted veggies like potatoes and carrots. It doesn't take me long to start to miss the produce available in Spring and Summer and begin to crave something lighter. I recently made this meal for a group of friends. It was fresh and just as filling as a bowl of spaghetti.  If you added some wine and affogatos for dessert you would have the makings of a delicious dinner party for six. Salad Course - Cantaloupe, Red Onion and Pecan Salad (slightly adapted from this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)

 cantaloupe, red onion and pecan salad

For the orange dressing

Juice from 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
 

Whisk the first three ingredients together in a small bowl. Once combined, continue to whisk while slowly pouring in olive oil. Add in a pinch of salt and a few cracks of black pepper to taste.

For the salad

2 cups cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
2 cups mixed greens of your choice
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
 

To toast the pecans, heat a small pan over medium low heat and add the nuts. Toast for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted and slightly fragrant. Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly.

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing on top and gently toss to coat. Divide among six plates and serve.

The Main Course - Chicken with Orange and Olives (slightly adapted from this recipe from Lidia Bastianich)

Chicken with Orange & Olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds thinly sliced chicken breasts
kosher salt
pepper
panko bread crumbs, for dredging
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large red onion, sliced
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
Zest and juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup beer
Chopped Italian Parsley for garnish

 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Season the chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper and lightly dredge in the bread crumbs. Working in batches, lightly brown the chicken on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Once the chicken is colored, remove to a plate and continue with the rest. After all the chicken has been colored, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the onions. Cook the onions until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the orange juice, zest, olives and beer and stir to combine. Add the chicken back to the skillet and simmer for about 2 minutes. Then flip the chicken and simmer for another 2 minutes. This will ensure everything is cooked through and allow the sauce to coat the chicken. Right before serving sprinkle with the parsley. Enjoy!

On the side - Fennel Slaw with Pistachio Pesto and Prosciutto (slightly adapted from this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis)

Fennel slaw with pistachio pesto and proscuitto

For the pesto

1 bunch minus 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup toasted pistachios (see salad recipe above for toasting directions)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper

 

In a food processor, combine parsley, pistachios, thyme and garlic cloves. Blend until everything is finely chopped. Keep the machine running and gradually pour in olive oil and continue to process until everything is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the fennel slaw

4-5 fennel bulbs
3-4 ounces prosciutto, torn into small, thin pieces

 

Remove the stalks and base of each fennel bulb and discard. Cut the bulbs in half and remove the cores. Then slice the fennel thinly  crosswise. Add to a large bowl with the pesto. Toss to coat everything really well. Lastly add the prosciutto pieces and gently toss one more time to combine. Enjoy!