Wonder of wonders, we were under a hundred yesterday. If this keeps up, one of these days I'll get that pot of soup on the stove that I've been craving. Realistically though it's a long way from soup weather so we're still on the "cool" theme.
Not just another pretty green face, this Chicken Pasta Salad has everything going for it including flavor. Chock a block full of artichoke hearts, salty capers, green olives, creamy avocado and sweet tomatoes never mind chicken and pasta, it's dressed in a fresh lemony pesto vinaigrette with a hint of Dijon mustard and a touch of cayenne. It was a great opportunity to give that ballistic basil a good haircut and use up the rest of the chicken the big guy cooked the other night.
To make up for the fact that dinner took about as long to put together as the pasta took to cook, I whipped up a little Plum Kuchen. Quite honestly I think I'd rather have this old fashioned kuchen than pie any day of the week and it's a great way to showcase all the stone fruit available in the market at the moment.
Slightly sweet, slightly tart with a touch of cinnamon and a hint of vanilla, this slice of heaven is incredibly easy to make and a perfect dessert for those who are pastry phobic. The crumbly crust is perfectly tender and kind of a cross between a buttery pastry and a tender rich cake. As for the filling, I've used peaches and pears before, but believe you me plums are the best, especially with the crown of creamy delicious vanilla flavored custard. We could hardy wait for it to cool enough to have a piece and now that I'm talking about it, I can't wait to have another one.
Chicken & Pasta Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2/3 cup olive oil
In food processor combine basil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. Process until chopped. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil and process until smooth. Set aside.
6 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions and well drained
1 whole chicken breast, cooked & chopped
2 - 7 ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 avocado, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup green olives, drained and sliced
2 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
Combine above ingredients. Toss with dressing. Chill, covered for a minimum of 1 hour. Makes 6 servings
In food processor combine:
1 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
Pulse three or four times until mixture forms fine crumbs. Remove 1/2 cup of crumbs and set aside. Place the remaining crumbs into a 9” springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spread crumbs evenly on bottom of pan.
Slice and remove pits from plums. Arrange slices on top of crumb mixture in pan. Sprinkle with the reserved half cup of crumbs. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 20 minutes. Remove kuchen from oven.
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Top kuchen with egg/cream/vanilla mixture and return to oven. Bake for additional 30 to 40 minutes or until custard has set and top is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving.