Saturday, August 13, 2016


Here’s the third “flash-in-the-pan” menu. I actually did all three meals in the first week, when I had plenty of time to devote to them. Yes, the foods are quick to prepare, but the photographing takes me a lot of time! So I’ve got two weeks of blogs with only a little recipe writing to do.

Dinner in 45 minutes: Starter of Watermelon Salad. Fried chicken cutlets with red pepper mayo; sides of microwaved zucchini and cous cous taboulleh with mint and carrots.

Menu 3 (45 minutes)
Watermelon Salad
Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Red Pepper Mayonnaise
Microwave Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes
Cous Cous Taboulleh

I have to admit that I didn’t get this menu done in the 30-minute time limit I set for my “fast food meals.” That’s because I fried the six chicken cutlets in two batches. Never mind. Forty-five minutes is still pretty quick.

Start with the Cous Cous Taboulleh. Cous cous is my go-to grain when I want a really quick side dish. Just pour boiling water over it and let set a few minutes. Season any way you like and it’s ready to serve, hot, room temperature or chilled.

Ready, set, cook! Ingredients prepped for a meal ready in 45 minutes.

Make the Microwave Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. The microwave zucchini is another quickie recipe ). Dice the zucchini, halve the tomatoes, microwave 3-4 minutes. Salt the vegetables after they have been microwaved. (recipe is here along with some other fast-food ideas.) This vegetable side doesn’t have to be served hot—it’s just as good room temperature.

Bread the chicken cutlets and fry them. Dip them first in seasoned flour, then egg, again in flour. Fry them on medium-high heat until browned.

Make the salad while chicken is cooking. Cut up the watermelon, cucumbers, celery and peppers for the salad.

Make the sauce for the chicken. Just stir all the ingredients together.

Dinner’s served!

Cous Cous Taboulleh

Cous cous is a pre-cooked grain, so it's ready to eat in minutes.

1 cup cous cous
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 carrot, grated
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
¼ cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place the cous cous in a heat-proof bowl with the oil and salt. Add boiling water, stir, and cover the bowl. Allow to set 10 minutes.

Fluff the grain with a fork. Add carrot, scallion, tomato, mint, parsley and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Watermelon Salad
Ensalada de Sandía

Juicy chunks of  sweet watermelon, crisp celery and peppers, Sherry vinegar and olive oil. No, those aren't watermelon seeds--they are crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds.

The salad can be made in advance and chilled. The salt will draw out the juices from the watermelon, so use a slotted spoon to serve the salad.

Serves 4-6.

1 ¾ pounds watermelon
½ cup diced cucumber
¼ cup thinly sliced celery
¼ each green and yellow bell pepper
¼ cup diced serrano ham (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Slice the watermelon ¾ inch thick. Lay the slices on a cutting board and cut away the rind. Cut the slices into ¾-inch strips, pushing aside any seeds. Cut the strips into dice. Place the diced watermelon in a bowl.

Add cucumber, celery, green and yellow bell pepper and ham, if using. Season with salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. Stir in the pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately or chill the salad, covered, for several hours. Serve with arugula.

Breaded Chicken Cutlets
Pechugas de Pollo Empanadas

Chicken breast cooks in the time it takes to fry the cutlets golden-brown. Serve it hot or cold.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each one split horizontally to make 6 fillets
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika), smoked or unsmoked
Pinch of pimentón picante or cayenne
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
Olive oil for frying
Red pepper mayonnaise for serving (recipe follows)

Trim the chicken fillets to make evenly shaped cutlets. (If very thick, they can be pounded to flatten.)

Combine the flour, salt, pepper, thyme, pimentón and pimentón picante in a shallow pan.

Beat the egg and milk together and place in a shallow bowl.

Dip each cutlet first in flour, then in egg and again in flour.

Place skillet on medium-high heat with enough enough oil to completely cover the surface.  Fry the cutlets, turning them once, until they are golden-brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Serve hot or room temperature accompanied by the red pepper mayonnaise.

Red Pepper Mayonnaise
Mayonesa de Pimientos de Piquillo

Mix bottled mayonnaise with chopped peppers, olive oil and hot harissa paste. Ready in a flash!

Use canned piquillo peppers (drained) or any roasted and peeled red pepper. Harissa is North African red chile paste. It adds spice to the mayo.

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup chopped piquillo peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Whisk together the mayonnaise, peppers, garlic, oil and lemon juice. Swirl in 1 or 2 tablespoons (to taste) of hot harissa. Store sauce chilled.

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