By JJ Gumbs
It's Memorial Day weekend and as the unofficial start of summer, it's time to dust off and crank up the grill for those delicious BBQ chickens and sausages. But due to Covid-19 many persons won't be able to invite over friends to celebrate this holiday commemorating all the men and women who have died while serving in the military to protect this great nation of ours. Notwithstanding, you can certainly celebrate the holidays with your family while self-quarantining at home.
One of my favorite Memorial Day meals is grilled chicken breasts served with carrots & chickpeas. I also love hummus, so I look for every opportunity in which to service this delectable Mediterranean dip. I also like to color-code my meals, so today I am going to share with you in honor of the red, white, and blue, how to prepare a mouthwatering recipe of chicken breasts. We will serve it with carrots & chickpea salad, along with pita bread dipped in beet hummus, to get that lovely color coordination going. So what do you think? Share your experience in preparing this meal in the comments below.
Grilled Chicken Breast
To prepare this mouthwatering protein dish, you will need the following basic items:
Boneless and/or skinless chicken breasts, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and your favorite spices. But here, I am going to give you some of my favorite spices:
8 skinless chicken breasts (about 5 lbs)
3 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp minced onion
1 tsp dried thyme
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp salt
After cleaning chicken with lime and water or vinegar and water, pat dry and lay aside.
Combine seasoning (thyme, onion, garlic, pepper, and salt) with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle over chicken breasts then rub into the flesh. Set aside to marinate.
Light your grill.
When heated, remove seasoning from chicken breasts and place meat on moderately high flames. Flip the meat when "brown" and let cook for another 10 - 15 minutes.
The whole process including preparation takes approximately 45 minutes to one hour.
Carrot and chickpea salad
To make this delicious salad, you will need the following
3 - 4 medium-sized carrots (sliced thinly)
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp rosemary leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ cup chopped tomatoes
3 tbsps chopped parsley
2 tbsps lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 bottle dry white wine
zest of lemon
In a large saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 quarts of water. Add 1/2 of the onion along with one of the garlic cloves (whole or cut in two pieces) and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours (You can also use a pressure cooker to reduce the time). Add salt and simmer for another 10 minutes. Drain the chickpeas and discard the seasoning.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots, the balance of onion and garlic (thinly sliced). Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender --approx. 10 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and 1 cup of the wine. Boil over moderately high heat until only half the amount of wine remains -- approx. 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer over moderate heat for another 5 minutes. Add 1 - 1/2 cups of cold water and the chickpeas, then simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency. Add the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Serve at room temperature.
The entire process takes between 2 1/2 and 3 hours.
2 lbs red beets, washed and scrubbed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup Soom tahini
¼ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper (your preference)
Warm pita bread, for serving
Heat the oven to 425°. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, cover the beets with water and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until very tender. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Cut the beets into 1-inch pieces, spread them on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until cold--approx. 1 hour.
In a food processor, combine the braised beets with the garlic, basil, and lemon juice and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the puree is smooth. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the Tahini. Season with salt/pepper and serve with warm pita bread.
For dessert, add some blueberries and concord grapes.
Enjoy the remainder of white wine.
Prepare the chickpeas first as it takes the longest to cook in this whole meal preparation process. Alternatively, you can use the precooked version in the can, but expect a slightly different taste and texture.
You can also cook the beet together with the chickpeas to save time and accentuate the red and blue themed meal. Remember chickpeas and beets are high in vitamins and minerals, with beets known to lower blood pressure and being a good source of fiber.
You can also substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for lemon juice.
And why waste a good grill. Don't forget that you can throw some red potatoes and sausages on to the grill to serve with this recipe. It's Memorial Day, after all! The key is to flavor with garlic, thyme, and pepper (your preference).
Happy Memorial Day!