Picklesandcake


Fresh-Sauced Gemelli with Artichoke, Feta and Grilled Chicken


I’m a relatively new convert to the fresh sauce revolution and I still can’t believe how easy it is to make. Fresh ingredients never cooked that come together from the heat of the pasta. Fresh flavor at its best. I’ve tried different variations several times including one of my first Pickles and Cake recipe postings. This time around, I was inspired by a batch of beautiful yellow tomatoes and a craving for artichokes. Some grilled chicken on top infused with some complimentary flavors will push this dish over the edge.


The first step is to marinate the chicken. I marinated about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the following:

Mediterranean Marinade

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp season salt (I used the Tuscan Chicken grinder below)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp fresh basil, thyme and parsley – rough chopped


Combine all ingredients in ziplock bag and marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Grill off the chicken on high heat and let it rest. Slice thin just before plating.

(why didn’t I take any photos of the chicken on the grill?!)

Fresh “No-Cook” Tomato Sauce with Artichoke Hearts and Feta

2 Tbsp spring onion
2 Cups deseeded, chopped tomato
1/2 Cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 Tbsp fresh basil, thyme and parsley
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped Feta

The girls will eat anything I make, as long as I involve them in the cooking experience.


The first step is to pick some fresh herbs. Lillie is a pro at carefully plucking off the basil leaves.


I set Lillie up to deseed the tomatoes. Its important to pull all the seeds and the jelly stuff out of the locule chambers.


She does a great job – this is what they look like once they are cleaned out and cleaned up…


While she was deseeding the golden beauties, I opened a can of baby artichoke hearts.


Then I rolled up an herb ball for easy cutting.


A quick chop to all and we are one step closer.


I chop chop the tomatoes and and throw everything in a bowl.


A quick stir and the sauce is ready to go. Well, ready to sit anyway. It needs to sit on the counter for a few hours for all the flavors to meld.


Boil your favorite stubby pasta and transfer to individual bowls just as the pasta is al dente. I generally use a multigrain penne but I’m a sucker for Barilla’s gemelli and could care less about the extra carbs with a fresh, healthy meal like this. Gemelli is dense and perfect for this type of sauce.


Toss pasta with the sauce. Once the sauce hits the hot pasta the herbs wilt and the garlic mellows. Top with sliced chicken and some feta. Done!

Sadie was starving and finished this entire bowl!


Lillie wolfed down the whole bowl too.


It was a perfect night outside so we set up a little table by the pool.


This was probably one of the best dishes I’ve made in a while. The smokiness of the grilled chicken and the full savory flavor of the fresh sauce – the accent of the feta and texture of the gemelli. Every taste bud was smiling and the kids loved it all.



you say tomato


The best flavor in the world is a fresh tomato right out of the garden and there is nothing worse than a tomato that doesn’t taste like a tomato. We have all suffered through those flavorless, mealy off-season tomatoes. Yuck.

Our harvest happened at the right time considering the salmonella outbreak sweeping the country. I was truly caught off guard by how much flavor these beauties are packing.


Here is a recipe inspired by the new show Chef at Home – he recently had a whole show on garden-fresh tomatoes and did a great job showcasing their flavor and versatility. His enthusiasm is a bit much at times but by the end of the show I was hooked. He squeezed a ton of information into the half hour show and had some ideas I’d never considered. The message that resonated with me the most was to not over complicate your dish – let the flavor of your key ingredient shine through.


This one is too simple not to try. Combine all ingredients in a blender (or use your immersion blender) and puree for a minute or two. Chill for an hour and serve over sliced tomato and greens.

tomato vinaigrette

1 large ripe tomato
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
zest and juice from 1 small lemon
1 tsp honey
2 basil leaves
1/2 clove garlic
1 tsp fresh shallot



Insalata Caprese Dorata
October 2, 2007, 12:07 am
Filed under: beet, recipe, salad, tomato, vinaigrette
Lillie and the biggest bite ever

October is here!

The leaves are starting to change and hot apple cider is in the mug…

Who am I kidding!? Here in Central Florida, we can finally go outside again without melting! It was one HOT summer indeed.

While everyone else is thinking pumpkin, we are fixated on locally grown Zellwood corn and ripe heirloom tomatoes. Grab a sweet tea and meet me on the lanai!

Heirloom tomatoes, smoked bufala mozzarella and roasted golden beets
topped with basil chiffonade, cracked pepper
and a blackberry balsamic vinagrette

Insalata Caprese Dorata

(golden caprese salad)

This charming simple salad is my variation of the famous Capri-style offering from the Campania region of Italy. The smoked mozzarella adds a little heartiness and complexity. The sweet and mild golden beets bring an earthiness and more texture to the salad. Lillie gobbled this one up!

1 heirloom tomato – sliced 1/4 inch

6-8 1/4 inch slices of smoked buffala mozzarella

1 roasted golden beet – sliced 1/4 inch (recipe below)

1 tbsp basil chiffonade

Cracked pepper to taste

Blackberry balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

ready for my drizzle….

Arrange alternating slices of the tomato, mozzarella and beets in a wide circle on the plate. Add a light layer of the basil and drizzle on the vinaigrette. Finish with some cracked pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 small shallot

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp onion powder

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp cracked pepper

Slowly add vinegar to olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Add remaining ingredients and whisk again until fully combined. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour (preferably overnight) to let the flavors combine. Shake well before serving.

Roasted Golden Beets

3 Golden Beets

Aluminum foil

Golden beets are worth tracking down. They are a little sweeter and less “beety” than your traditional red beets. If you have never had fresh beets, give them a shot. They are nothing like their bitter and intensely flavored canned beet relatives.

I used to boil my beets until I came across this technique. I love the richer, sweeter flavor the roasting imparts.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut off greens and vigorously wash each beet. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place in oven for 45 minutes. Remove when center is soft – use a skewer to test. Let cool, remove from foil and peel off thin layer of skin – it should slide right off with your fingers.

happy salad girl