June 23, 2010

Winging it for lunch

I'm making chili for supper tonight. Snore. Been there, done that.  So I decided I'd share what I've been lunching on. Per our custom 'round here, Doug has been taking dinner leftovers to work for his lunch the next day. As for me, I've been winging it.

This isn't so much as a recipe as a stream of consciousness. It's one of those deals where I taste and tinker, until I have something I want to taste in quantity. Here goes...

Chicken Pasta Salad

I thawed out a couple extra chicken breasts while I was prepping for last night's pasta. I heated up my skillet, then some sesame oil, on a medium burner. Then I popped in the chicken.

This color on both sides

That touch of brown adds a depth of flavor and texture I adore, although it's totally optional. Meanwhile I was bringing some lightly salted water up to a boil.

Once the chicken was done I put it in my biggest mixing bowl with a bit of salt and black pepper. I took a couple of forks and got to shredding.

Simple simple

I kept ripping and tearing until I had this:

I seriously almost slobbered into the bowl... Again.

At some point during all this my water started boiling. I tossed in a couple of handfuls of mostaccioli.

Precision measurements

While the pasta finished cooking, I stuck the chicken into the freezer to get cool. Then I started rounding up dressing ingredients.

My first string

I pulled the chicken back out of the freezer and added mayo, onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, cilantro, and celery seed. Taste? Bland. More salt and pepper. Could use some sweetness. I know! Pickle relish! And some of that Italian dressing I've been loading on everything this week. A little Parmesan cheese. Some parsley. Okay, that's pretty tasty.

Next I drained the pasta and gave it a quick cool water rinse. Can I just gripe for a second about over-rinsed pasta? First of all, you should never rinse unless you need to cool the noodles for a salad like this. Ever had gummy, tasteless pasta? A well meaning but uninformed cook probably washed all the yummy off. End gripe.

Toss toss tossed the pasta into the dressed chicken. Added some salad greens, torn up into tiny pieces. Tasted again. Just a liiitle more mayo, salt and pepper. Chucked one of those forks in the sink and prepared to chow down.

Doesn't look like survival food...

A dish like this will feed me for 2 or 3 days, depending on how much restraint I can exercise. At this point I still have enough for tomorrow, and hallelujah, Friday's payday.

I haven't been this inspired in the kitchen for a while. The heat had kind of sapped my motivation and creativity. Not that it's any cooler this week. I've just had a growling stomach to drive me. Teehee.

Here's to hoping I'll stay on the ball!

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