Day 1: Stir-Fried Scallops and Ham
Total time: 10 minutes
The sweetness of shellfish pairs very well with the salty ham. Small bits of ham are often used as flavorings in Chinese foods. I buy frozen scallops, which are less expensive than fresh. You could also use small, bay scallops, which will cook very fast or shrimp.
- 10oz (300gr) large scallops
- 4 slices Prosciutto, (3.5oz, 100gr) or other dry-cured ham, Bayonne, Serrano
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tbs dry sherry
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water
- Cut ham slices into thick strips.
- Dissolve cornstarch in water.
- Stir sherry and soy sauce into cornstarch mixture.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- When hot add 2 tsp olive oil, ham and stir-fry until crisp.
- Remove ham and set aside. Add remaining 1 tsp olive oil and sesame oil to skillet.
- Add scallops and stir-fry quickly until scallops turn opaque. Some scallops will release water when cooked, causing them to steam rather than fry. Be sure to use a large skillet, giving them plenty of room. Turn the heat to high after adding the scallops if they don't start to sizzle.
- Return ham to skillet, add cornstarch mixture and stir until it's hot, thick and coating the scallops, less than a minute.
- Serve immediately.
Day 2: Filet Mignon with Caramelized Onions
Total time: 35 minutes
With a lovely piece of flavorful, tender filet mignon this is truly marvelous main course. But the savory-sweet onions will make even a lesser cut shine.
- 2 filet mignon steaks (tournedos), 6oz (180gr) each or other cut of choice
- 1 large or 2 medium onions
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Mix Worcestershire sauce, oil and brush on steaks. Set aside.
- Cut onion in half then into 1/4 inch (.65cm) think slices.
- Heat butter, oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Add onions and sauté until browned, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. You may have to turn the heat down to low after about 15 minutes.
- When onions are nicely browned add sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, and stir until well blended and sugar is melted. Set aside and keep warm.
- Cook steaks on barbecue grill until done to your liking.... about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. It depends on thickness of cut, heat of grill, etc. Check out this site for the 'thumb test'.
- Divide caramelized onions and place on 2 plates. Put steak on top and serve.
Note: Could be done under the broiler (grill) or quickly pan fried over high heat for about the same time.
Day 3: Warm Chicken Pasta Salad with Spring Vegetables
Total time: 30 minutes
I have always disagreed with most 'Pasta Primavera' as they are meant to celebrate spring but insist on using summer vegetables: tomatoes and peppers. This is my version, using only spring vegetables.
- 6oz (180gr) green asparagus
- 4oz (120gr) snow peas, mangetout, pea pods
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup fava beans you'll need about 1lb (500gr) of pods to start with, substitute edamame
- 4 green garlic, sliced, including green tops substitute 4 green onions
- 1 tbs oil
- 2 tbs fresh, snipped chives substitute 2 tbs dried - add to vinaigrette
- 1 1/4 cups (3.5oz, 100gr) farfalle pasta
- 1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
- 1 1/2 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbs good olive oil
- Grilled Chicken:
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain well.
- Mix marinade and pour over chicken. Let marinate for 15 - 30 minutes.
- Heat a sauce pan of water to boiling.
- Roll cut the asparagus into 1" (2.5cm) lengths.
- Trim the snow peas.
- Remove fava beans from the pods.
- Blanch vegetables, one type at a time, in boiling water: asparagus for 3 minutes, snow peas for 2 minutes and fava beans for 2 minutes.
- Remove each from water and put into cold water.
- Shell fava beans (see notes).
- Cook chicken on barbecue grill, 10 - 15 minutes, or until done or can be sautéed in skillet for about the same amount of time.
- Remove and slice.
- Whisk together mustard and vinegar for vinaigrette.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly.
- To Assemble:
- Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add green garlic or onion, asparagus and snow peas. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, until hot and starting to brown.
- Add drained pasta and toss to heat through.
- Put into a large bowl, add fava beans, chives and sliced chicken.
- Pour vinaigrette over and toss well to combine.
Roll cut: Cut the end off at an angle, roll 1/4 turn and slice at the same angle, roll 1/4 and slice, etc. This gives you interesting looking pieces with lots of surface. It's normally used on round vegetables: carrots, asparagus, etc.
Peel fava beans: They peel like peas: break open the pod and take the beans out. Don't bother with any really tiny ones. After blanching they will have a whitish outer shell. Just squeeze lightly and the inner, bright green bean will pop out. It may split in half... that's okay.
Day 4: Grilled Turkey Teriyaki
Total time: 15 minutes
Turkey cutlets are great for a quick main course. Paired with a simple Teriyaki marinade, these can be ready in under 10 minutes.... But you have to let the barbecue grill warm up! Or just quickly sauté in a nonstick skillet.
- 2 - 4 turkey cutlets, depending on size 12oz total (360gr)
- 2 - 3 tbs Teriyaki marinade
- This is very work intensive: Open bottle of Teriyaki marinade and pour some on the turkey cutlets. Set aside to marinate for a bit.
- When ready cook on barbecue grill for 2 - 3 minutes per side or under broiler for same amount of time or sauté in nonstick skillet for 3 - 5 minutes a side - in all cases cook until done.
Pasta Primavera with Tuna
Total time: 30 minutes
I've made this Primavera' a little more 'spring-like', added some tuna to make it a full main course rather than just a hearty side dish and finished it with a light egg/Parmesan sauce.
- 1 1/4 cups (4.2oz, 125gr) bite size pasta, penne, rigatoni
- 6oz (180gr) asparagus
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1 cup (4oz, 120gr) cherry or grape tomatoes
- 4oz (120gr) snow peas, mangetout
- 9oz (270gr) tuna, canned
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup (3oz, 90gr) Parmesan, divided
- 2 tbs snipped fresh chives substitute 1 tbs dried
- 2 tbs snipped fresh parsley substitute 1 tbs dried
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- Grate Parmesan.
- Open and drain tuna.
- Snip herbs.
- Trim snow peas and cut into half or thirds, diagonally.
- Cut red pepper into matchsticks.
- Cut tomatoes in half.
- Snap off asparagus ends. Peel if using white. Cut asparagus into 1 1/2" (4cm) lengths.
- Bring a medium saucepan half full of water to a boil over medium high heat.
- Add asparagus and boil for 2 minutes (3 for white).
- Remove, drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water and drain again.
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper and sauté 2 minutes.
- Add asparagus and snow peas and saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.
- Add tuna, breaking it into large chunks. Keep hot.
- In medium bowl whisk egg well.
- Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and whisk.
- When pasta is done, drain, reserving 1/2 or all of the cooking water. (We only want 1 tbs, but we want it boiling hot.)
- Immediately put pasta into skillet with vegetables and toss well.
- Slowly pour 1 tbs of hot pasta water into egg mixture, whisking.
- Pour egg mixture over pasta, tossing well. (Use tongs). Toss in skillet 1 minute, to heat through, then quickly put into a serving dish.
- Add tomatoes, herbs, toss to combine and serve, remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan on the side.
Day 6: Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Bacon and Mushrooms
Total time: 30 minutes
One cannot go wrong with mushrooms and bacon.... A bit decadent, perhaps, but life is for living. My bacon is very lean, so I have to sauté it in oil. Use it or not, as needed.
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4oz (120gr) mushrooms
- 2oz (60gr) bacon about 2 - 3 slices
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) white wine
- 1 tsp cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 1 tbs water
- Roughly chop onion.
- Mince garlic.
- Clean and thickly slice mushrooms.
- Roughly chop bacon.
- Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add bacon, onion, garlic, and sauté 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes longer.
- Move onion/mushrooms to the sides of the pan.
- Add chicken breasts and brown lightly on both sides, about 7 minutes total.
- Add white wine, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is done, 10 - 15 minutes longer.
- Remove chicken to a plate. Increase heat under skillet.
- Add cornstarch mixture to mushroom bacon sauce, stirring until thickened.
- Spoon over chicken and serve.