I am what is known as a “lurker” on Instagram. I rarely comment or share, but I do scroll and frequently gravitate to food posts.
I saw both of these recipes a few weeks ago, and they caught my eye. The first one, the chicken with tomatoes, I never did manage to find the source when I went to recreate it:
What you see below was an invention based on my recollection (and apologies to the original chef, who deserves all the credit).
The second one, featuring zucchini, courtesy of Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, was a bit fussy for my taste. If I may be so bold as to disagree with Chef K, similar results can be achieved with a simple marinade and grill, and I share that version below.
I made both of these one Sunday evening at the beach and there were no leftovers, the best sign of a successful meal!
Chicken with Marinated Tomatoes and Onions
I used breasts, but boneless thighs are fine for those who prefer dark meat. We let the tomatoes sit on the chicken for about 5 minutes before tucking in; a longer spell would be even better, allowing the juice to seep into the meat.
Serve this with a loaf of crusty bread to sop up the dressing.
For the chicken and marinade:
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2½ pounds boneless chicken, sliced horizontally into thin cutlets
For the tomato/onion mixture:
2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, cut in half then sliced thinly
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinding of fresh cracked pepper
¾ cup loosely packed basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a zip-seal bag or a sealable container. Add the chicken and toss it to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.
An hour before dinner, mix all the tomato ingredients except the basil. Toss and set it aside at room temperature.
Heat a grill to medium-high and begin to cook the chicken. Allow the pieces to sear for about 3 minutes, and then rotate them 90 degrees; this creates those delightful-looking grill hash marks.
After another 3 minutes, flip the chicken and repeat the process. The chicken cooks on each side for about 6 minutes or 12 total minutes. Check for doneness; if the chicken needs more time, lower the heat or move the chicken to the exterior of the grill where the heat is less intense and cook it for a few more minutes until done.
Place the chicken in a dish with sides (like a Pyrex lasagna pan or a large, deep platter). Pour the tomato mixture over it, toss it to coat and cover it with foil. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle it with the basil ribbons and serve.
Confession time: I first followed Keller’s directions for this recipe — it involved salting the zucchini to drain it (like you would do for eggplant.) Then it required sautéing it in a pan with a good amount of oil to brown it — and standing over the stove to ensure even cooking and to avoid burning.
Then the squash was baked in the oven for a bit, coated with a very tasty miso-maple glaze. It was delicious. With all due respect to the esteemed chef and his staff, for simple summer meals, this was just overkill.
Below, I share a simplified version of the dish which might not achieve the same level of refinement for true gourmands. But if I’m rolling off the beach or out of the pool, or even walking across an air-conditioned room to prepare dinner, this version is just fine.
I marinated the squash with Bachan’s Japanese barbecue sauce, but you can use anything you like — bottled Italian dressing, oil and vinegar, Soy Vey, etc.
3 medium or 6 small zucchinis
3 tablespoons oil
About 3 tablespoons of your favorite sauce
Remove the ends and stem from the zucchinis and cut them lengthwise. Hash the cut sides of the squash and toss it with oil and sauce. Let it sit for a few minutes or a few hours.
Heat a grill over medium-high and cook the zucchini for a few minutes on each side until lightly charred.
Lower the heat and/or move the squash to the exterior of the grill where the heat is less intense. Continue cooking until the zucchini is cooked through and a bit soft, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness.