Weekly Main Course Recipes:  May 17, 2013

One:  Sautéed Scallops with Pesto                         Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes
     These scallops are finished with a light, pesto-sherry sauce. A bit of crisp bacon rounds out the flavors and marries well with the sweet scallops. Scallops release a lot of liquid when cooked, so be careful not to crowd. 

12oz (350gr) scallops
2oz (60gr) bacon   2 - 3 strips
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs sherry
3 tbs pesto

Rinse scallops and pat dry.  Cut bacon into matchsticks.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and fry until crisp.  Remove bacon.  Add scallops and quickly sauté, turning once, until opaque. If there is a lot of liquid from the scallops, drain (a bit is okay).  Reduce heat to low and add sherry, stirring to get up any browned bits.  Remove from heat and stir in pesto.  Add bacon, stir to combine and serve.

Two:   Brined, Grilled Pork Tenderloin    Preparation, cooking time: 40 minutes,  10 early
    Brining keeps meat moist and tender during cooking and is particularly well-suited to pork.  The tenderloin cooks quickly on the barbecue, and the rub adds even more flavors to it. Remember, slightly pink is now okay for pork, and over-cooking can ruin the best efforts....

1 pork tenderloin, 14oz (400gr)
The Brine:

2 cups very cold water or water and ice, mixed
2 tbs sea, kosher or other coarse salt
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs molasses
The Rub:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard

Earlier in the day, at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours before cooking, mix water, salt, sugar and molasses in a deep bowl.  Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Add pork, making sure that it's totally covered.  If not, you can put pork in large zip-lock bag and add brine.  Refrigerate, turning occasionally, until ready to cook. 
When ready to cook, remove pork and pat dry with paper towels.  Discard brine. 
Mix all ingredients for the rub and sprinkle on all sides of pork, patting it lightly to stick.  Cook on barbecue grill for 15 - 20 minutes, turning to brown all sides.  Internal temperature should reach 155F (70C) or until only slightly pink in center.  Remove and let rest a few minutes.  Carve into 1" (2.5cm) thick slices and serve.  Could also be roasted in the oven, 400F (200C) 25 - 30 minutes.

Three:   Ham, Fennel and Radish Salad               Preparation and cooking time:  15 minutes
    A cold salad can be just the thing to end a busy day.  This one celebrates spring with lots of sliced radishes.  Serve some crusty, country bread on the side, if you like.

8oz (250gr) ham
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1 medium carrot
1 small - medium fennel bulb
3oz (90gr) cherry tomatoes
2oz (60gr) cheddar cheese  substitute Colby
enough lettuce for 2 main dish salads
White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
4 tbs good olive oil
1 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs fresh basil    substitute 1 tsp dried
1 tbs snipped chives    substitute 1 tsp dried

Prepare lettuce, tear and put into a large salad bowl.  Make vinaigrette. 
Cut ham into cubes.  Cut cheese into smaller cubes.  Slice radishes.  Cut carrots into thin matchsticks.  Slice fennel. Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
Add 3 - 4 tbs vinaigrette to lettuce and toss well with tongs to combine.  Taste, adjust.  Add remaining ingredients and toss gently.  Serve, extra dressing on the side.
White Balsamic Vinaigrette: 
Whisk vinegar, mustard and lemon juice. Add oil very slowly whisking all of the time.  It should incorporate as you add it and get thick.  If it does not, stop adding oil for a few moments and just whisk.  Continue until all oil is added.  Add basil and chives.

Four:  Chicken Breast with Lemon and Honey  Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
    Chicken breasts are a favorite on the grill but be careful not to overcook or they tend to dry out.  We prefer to slice them thinly, at an angle, to serve, rather than leaving the breast whole, but that, of course is optional.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
4 tbs lemon juice  
2 tbs honey
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder

In small bowl mix lemon juice, oil, honey, soy sauce and garlic powder.  Place chicken breasts in a dish with sides and pour marinade over.  Let marinate 15 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Remove from marinade and cook on barbecue grill for 7 - 10 minutes per side, or until done,  basting with marinade until 5 minutes before removing (to make sure marinade is cooked). 
Could also be sautéed in a nonstick skillet for same amount of time. Serve.

Five:  Spicy Barbecued Burgers                               Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes
        Slightly spicy burgers, topped with a ketchup based sauce.  Serve with or without buns, pickles and onions. They have enough flavor to stand alone.  If cooking on the barbecue grill, a grill basket or mat makes it easier.

12oz (350gr) ground beef
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4oz (125gr) chopped green chiles (or jalapeños' if you prefer)
2 tbs ketchup, divided
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Put beef, chili powder, garlic powder, chilies and 1 tbs ketchup into a large bowl and mix well.  Shape into 3 - 4 patties.   Cook on barbecue grill for 4 - 8 minutes per side, or until done to your liking. 
Mix 1 tbs ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.  After you turn the burgers, baste with ketchup sauce.  Serve.
Or sauté in a nonstick skillet for the same amount of time, depending on how you like them done.

Six:   Warm Mediterranean Chicken Salad on Spinach                        Time: 25 minutes
     Chicken, quickly sautéed with herbs and spices, combined with capers, olives, peppers - all flavors from around the Mediterranean.  The salad is layered on orzo and spinach.  

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 small red bell pepper
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
12 dry-cured or Greek olives
2 tbs capers
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
2 tsp cornstarch (maizena, corn flour) dissolved in 1 tbs water
1/2 cup orzo
1 1/4 cup (10oz, 300ml) chicken stock
3oz (90gr) spinach or other spring greens     enough for 2 main meal salads

Cook orzo in chicken stock, covered, until done.  Drain if needed.   
Slice pepper into strips, then cut strips in half. Quarter onion, then slice. Mince garlic.  Pit olives if needed, cut in half.  Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add cumin, herbs and sauté briefly.  Add onion, peppers, garlic, chicken and sauté until vegetables are tender and chicken is browned on all sides.  Add sherry, vinegar, stock and bring to a simmer.  Dissolve cornstarch in water and add, stirring until thickened.  Remove from heat and add olives and capers.
Salad: Prepare spinach or greens, spin dry.  Arrange on two plates. Divide orzo and spoon on top of greens.  Divide chicken and spoon on top of orzo.  Serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  White Bean and Radish Salad
Sautéed Scallops with Pesto
Couscous Salad
Sautéed Asparagus with Chives
  Ham and Chive Mini Frittatas
Brined, Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Barbecued Gratin Potatoes
Grilled Asparagus
Three:  Ham, Fennel and Radish Salad
Fresh Fruit
Four:     Chicken Breast with Lemon and Honey
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs
Glazed Carrots and Onions
Five:  Spicy Barbecued Burgers
Warm Brown Rice and Spinach Salad
Six:  Mediterranean Chicken Salad on Spinach

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