In the summertime, we want dishes that are light yet filling. Around my house, we are always using pasta in our dishes. Whether we go the Italian route or just good ole' comfort food, pasta can be found somewhere in my recipes. But, sometimes pasta can be a little more filling than I would like during the summer. So, I came up with three different twists on how to serve up a light and delicious pasta meal. Recently, I used couscous and came up with a scrumptious meal called Southwest Chicken Couscous. Even though couscous is more of a grain product rather than pasta or rice, I still think it is fine to put it in my "pasta" category for today. Now, you might be thinking couscous sounds awfully scary but it really was easy. Promise. This comes from a girl that is notorious for burning her rice. This is a great meal to serve to your family during the week - it is filling yet light at the same time. I used all ingredients that my girls could eat and they couldn't get enough of it. (Remember, ask your pediatrician before serving table foods to infants!) This is a great all-natural, fresh summer meal the whole family can enjoy!
Here's the lowdown on the couscous:
- 1 box of Near East Couscous Mix (I used the Herbed Chicken Flavor)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 cobs of sweet corn
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Butter, chicken stock, olive oil & vinegar dressing (I used Newman's Own Olive Oil & Vinegar)
-Butter, salt & pepper corn and wrap in tinfoil. Cook on 350 degrees for one hour. (You can certainly used canned or frozen corn to save time but with corn being in season right now, I love using the fresh corn. It has a much sweeter taste and blends so well with the other flavors of this dish.)
-Follow couscous directions but replace the water with chicken stock
-Cube chicken and put in a skillet with 1 tsp. butter and let brown
-Once the chicken is almost browned, add in the olive oil and vinegar (If you don't want to use the dressing, simply add in olive oil and vinegar from your kitchen cabinet) dressing until all of the chicken is well-coated. Let simmer
-Rinse your black beans and chickpeas and cut corn off the ear. Place your black beans, chickpeas, and corn in the skillet with your chicken to brown.
-Once couscous has cooked, fluff with a fork and add it to your skillet
-Add 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesean cheese (again, the fresh cheese tastes so much better and is sharper than cheese that has been in a can). Fresh parsley that has been cut can be added in at this time as well.
Another recipe that we have made this summer is Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta. The salmon that I bought was already soaked in a bourbon sauce, but my dad has a great recipe for doing it yourself.
Bourbon Basted Salmon:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 T bourban
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 3 T green onion (chopped)
Marinate the salmon fillet for 1 or more hours. Use just enough to cover the salmon surface. Run a knife down the long "seams" in the side of the fillet and rub the marinade deep into the flesh. Remove the salmon from marinade and cook on grill until done (7 minutes per side on grill, 14 minutes in oven). Remember to oil the cooking surface to reduce sticking and baste with reserved marinade while it cooks.
Here is how I made the pasta with this dish:
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- cream cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 box of linguine
Add the linguine to a pot of boiling water with salt and let cook. Heat skillet to medium and add the butter. As it simmers, add in the flour and whisk together until it thickens. Next, add in half of an eight ounce container of cream cheese. Mix that with the butter/flour mixture until it melts. Then, add in about 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Add this in slowly so the sauce doesn't get too runny. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes until the ingredients combine and thicken. Add in the zest and juice of one lemon and 1/2 cup of paremesean cheese. Finally, add the cooked pasta and mix together. Serve.
The final pasta meal that I have prepared is Peanut Butter and Honey Noodles. The recipe is found here. Raleigh loves food like this but we don't get a chance to eat it that often. When I made the recipe, I chose to use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic and I did not have the scallions. Also, I first added honey but then squirted in some agave nectar at the end to help smooth out the sauce. My final shortcut was I bought the frozen chinese low-mein that comes with vegetables and heated it up in the microwave. I had some shrimp left over and chose to cook that and chicken for my meats. Before I mixed everything in the peanut sauce, I set aside the chicken, veggies, and noodles for the girls to eat. This is a fun twist on an ordinary chicken and pasta dish!
I hope you enjoyed these simple recipes that are perfect for summer evenings around the house! Enjoy!
Till next time, let your light shine!