It's been a super hectic few weeks here on the home front. I know...seems like I've been saying that a lot lately, but this time, it's REALLY true. Three weeks ago, we moved into our new home and, let me just say, I'd probably be more efficient with my time if I didn't spend so much of it gazing lovingly into each and every room in our new house. I can't help it...I'm in love! Add to that removing all semblance of our inhabitance in the old house and then going on a little vacation to the Florida Keys a week later, and you can probably see that there was A LOT to do in a little time. And, if all of that wasn't more than enough to juggle, my oldest daughter went and got engaged in the midst of it all which necessitated throwing a little celebratory shindig this past weekend. Its not like I haven't been cooking....I've been pretty much cooking my little heart out in my new awesome kitchen, I just keep forgetting to take pictures and what's a blog without mouthwatering pictures? So tonight for dinner, with little time to spare once again, I was determined to not only cook a scrumptious meal but photograph it too!
Last week while strolling through my local grocery store, I spied a package of Asian Noodles made with Green Tea. I love Asian noodles primarily because they take so little time to make and can be served up as is or tossed into a stir fry. But the kicker for me was the added bonus of the green tea powder in the production of the noodles. Green tea powder is made from the nutrient-rich young leaves picked from the tips of shade-grown Camelia sinesis plants. It's steamed, stemmed and de-vined before being stone-ground into a very fine powder. It's then stored away from light and oxygen in order to preserve it's brilliant green colour and antioxidant properties. This miracle elixir has been consumed for over a millenium in the Far East and is now considered one of the most powerful superfoods on the market today.
High in antioxidants, (those magical nutirients and enzymes that give us younger looking skin and prevent a number of maladies), green tea powder has many health benefits including enchancing calmness, boosting memory and concentration, increasing energy and endurance, burning calories, detoxifying the body, fortifying the immune system and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to prepare our dinner around these little birds' nests of green tea noodles but I wasn't really in the mood for a stir fry or other typical Asian style dish. Scanning my refrigerator and cupboards I saw boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh mushrooms, carrots, sweet red peppers and Marsala wine. Surely I could do something with all of that right?
I originally bought the Marsala to make Chicken Marsala some time ago. Chicken Marsala is an Italian American dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms and Marsala wine. The dish dates back to the 19th century when it most likely originated with English families who lived in the Western Sicily region where Marsala wine is produced. Marsala wine is produced, not surprisingly, in the region surrounding the city of Marsala. It first received DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status in 1969. The DOC status is essentially certification that the wine is produced from grapes of the region, in the traditional regional manner. The natives of Marsala sometimes drink 'vintage' Marsala, but the wine produced for export is universally fortified with alcohol. Originally the addition of alcohol was to ensure that it would last on long ocean voyages but it's now made that way because of it's popularity in foriegn markets. Marsala is a dark wine with a smoky flavour that is often used in cooking and baking and when reduced it becomes almost syrupy in consistency.
I wondered if the culinary police would come and cart me off it I gave a traditional Sicilian dish a little Asian twist. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a new dish towel I recently purchased that says, 'Love and Cook with Abandon'. Seemed like a definite sign from the culinary gods to me! I knew the green tea noodles would only take a few minutes in boiling water to cook and if I kinda stir-fried the veg, they'd be done in minutes too. Marsala sauce also only takes a few minutes to make, so the only thing to consider was how to cook the chicken breasts relatively quickly. I decided to pound the chicken breasts in a zipper lock baggie with my meat mallet, (aka rolling pin my mom use to own when I was a little girl), until they were about 1/4" in thickness. I then seasoned them with a little salt and pepper and gave them a dusting of all purpose flour. I put the chicken to one side while I got everything else all prepped.
I cut one large carrot into bite size match stick sized strips and did the same with one sweet red pepper. I love mushrooms so I decided to add a couple of handfuls of them to the dish too. Given that I was essentially going to be cooking three things at the one time, I first put a large pot of water on to boil, seasoned with some freshly ground sea salt. I then placed two skillets on my stove. One I heated on a very low heat, and the other over medium high heat. When the skillet being heated over medium high heat was hot, I added about a Tablespoon and a half of extra virgin olive oil. I then added in the carrot sticks and gave them a quick saute for about 2 minutes before adding in the sweet red pepper, mushrooms and a clove of garlic, minced.
When the veg were cooked, I transferred them to the skillet that was being warmed over low heat.wanting the veg to stay tender crisp and warm, but not become overcooked. I then placed the original skillet back onto the burner that was set on medium high and when it was hot, I added the pounded chicken breasts. After about 4 minutes, I turned the chicken onto the other side. I wanted the chicken to be golden brown, tender and no longer pink inside, which would take about 3-4 minutes per side. When the chicken was cooked, I added it to the skillet with the vegetables to keep warm.
It was at this point that I added the Asian green noodles to the pot of boiling, (three little birds' nests to be exact, one per person). In the skillet that I had originally sauteed the vegetables and browned the chicken, I added 1/3 cup Marsala and about a tablespoon of fresh thyme, bringing that to a simmering boil and scraping up all of the yummy brown bits in the skillet from the chicken. I let the sauce simmer and redue for about 5 minutes while I drained and then plated the noodles along with the veggies topped with the chicken breasts. I then spooned the Marsala sauce over everything.
Doesn't that look just scrumptious!
On a bed of yummy tender-crsip veggies....
...with light and healthy green tea Asian noodles on the side. I was feeling darn proud of my traditional Sicilian dish with a little Asian twist but the true test would be in the tasting!
The sweet carrot and red bell pepper were the perfect balance with the mushrooms and garic. The chicken had a wonderful slightly crispy outside and moist, tender inside. The green tea noodles were light and filling while the earthy, smoky yet slightly sweet Marsala Thyme sauce brought the whole dish together in perfect harmony.
From start to finish, this meal took less than 20 minutes to pull together. I estimate the total cost at approximately $13.00 to feed 4 people, or a measely $4.25 per person. By using boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh veggies, green tea noodles and less than 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, it's also a healthy meal. This is a quick recipe with restaurant presentation and flavour, perfect for any weeknight dinner but even more so for impromptu entertaining!