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5 Family Faves

Try These Easy, Tasty Dishes

Zucchini Pasta

Boil 6 quarts water (add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt when boiling). Slice 4 zucchini very thinly. Cut them lengthwise down the center, and lay flat-side down to cut extra-thin slices. Dice 1 medium onion and mince 8 large cloves garlic. Heat a large Dutch oven or frying pan over medium high heat and add 1/3⅓cup olive oil. When hot, add zucchini and onion, and allow to fry. Add ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a few turns of cracked black pepper. Stirring only every minute or so, you want the vegetables to start to take on some color, but not to burn. When they are very soft, add the garlic and additional salt. Boil your pasta of choice (our family likes linguine) until al dente. Check the box for directions; do not overcook. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain the pasta, and add it to your vegetables. Taste the pasta, and consider adding a little of the reserved water to the pan. Sprinkle on ½ cup grated Parmesan, and taste for seasoning.

Shredded Chicken 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make your dry rub: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper. Mix spices together in a small bowl. Rinse and pat dry 2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs, and rub generously with your dry rub. Drizzle 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add chicken and sear each side for 2 to 3 minutes. When chicken is slightly brown, place the skillet in the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken pulls apart very easily. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool until easily handled, about 5 minutes. Using two forks, shred the chicken and place in a serving dish. Serve this with your favorite taco fixings: corn tortillas, coleslaw, black beans, cheese, sour cream, lime wedges. Or for burrito bowls, add rice, beans, bell peppers, and onions.

Favorite Flatbreads

Tomato Flatbread In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup tomato paste with 3 tablespoons olive oil, one clove garlic crushed or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon honey, and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste your tomato spread, and add additional seasoning if necessary. Spread thinly on a flatbread (naan or pita), and top with your favorite toppings – pepperoni, mozzarella, basil, and oregano. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Ricotta and Greens Flatbread In a bowl, mix ½ cup ricotta, 2 cloves crushed garlic, the zest of one lemon, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few turns of cracked black pepper. Spread on flatbreads, place on baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. When done, mix 1 cup baby arugula or spinach with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss. Place on top of the ricotta flatbreads.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove stems, and cut 4 large tomatoes across horizontally. Place cut-side up on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Top each with 2 tablespoons Parmesan, 1/8⅓teaspoon oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle each with ½ teaspoon of oil. Bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Photo: Jenny Tremblay West

Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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