Restaurant Reprieve

This weekend my friend from Los Angeles was in town. It’s always fun having guests in town because it gives me an excuse to try new restaurants, meander around adorable boutiques, or explore happenings that are out of the ordinary. But as I previously mentioned, I’ve been on a bit of a restaurant binge lately, and with more friends and family visiting in the next two weeks, there’s no end in sight. So it was a welcomed idea when we decided to cancel last night’s dinner reservation and stay in and cook. It brought me back to 2006 when my friend lived in Chicago and we’d cook together.

We went with a Mediterranean theme and made Greek Panzanella Salad and Greek Chicken Kabobs. I actually couldn’t believe that I’d never made the salad considering I’d seen the recipe countless times in my Barefoot Contessa cookbook. But now that I have, I can guarantee that this colorful dish will be a staple at BBQs this summer. The chicken marinade is simple yet effective with the lemon, oregano, and red wine. What a delicious meal and an even better weekend!

Greek Panzanella Salad

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

What You Need

  • Good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted
  • Vinaigrette
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil

What To Do

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
  2. Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  3. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion.
  4. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly.
  5. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Greek Chicken Kabobs

What You Need

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons - about 4 tablespoons juice
  • ¼ cup wine
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • 1 tsps dried thyme
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

What To Do

  1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and wine together then add the herbs crushed garlic and chopped onion and put the mixture into a deep dish. Putting some marinade aside to coat the cooked kebabs if desired. Add the meat cubes to the marinade and mix together well, ensuring the meat is well and evenly covered.
  2. Marinate chicken for at least two hours, and up to 24 hours.
  3. Either metal or wooden skewers can be used, but the wooden ones need soaking for at least half an hour before they are used. This prevents them from burning.
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade, the remaining marinade may be kept for basting during cooking but it must then be thrown away.
  5. String chicken on skewers, alternating with vegetables if desired.
  6. The kabobs may be grilled or baked in the oven.
  7. Cook thoroughly and evenly turning them over regularly throughout the cooking time.
  8. Brush with the reserved marinade that hasn't been in contact with the raw meat.

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