Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Dinner, as it happens

5.08pm – We get in from Art Club. Dinner on the table by six? Hm, OK then. Drag out the griddle pan from a tightly packed cupboard and set it to heat on the stove while I put coats away, exhort children to tidy shoes, extract laundry from machine and change to drying mode, tidy shoes myself, check book packs, insert Power Rangers (Operation Overdrive) DVD and locate swords.

5.20pm – The griddle pan is smoking alarmingly. Quickly slice four courgettes and drizzle some olive oil on them before placing them in the pan. Zest and juice a lemon over the top of some chicken breasts and add salt and pepper.

At this point Beautiful Girl gets an inkling that dinner might not be fish fingers and baked beans. Commences exhortations to provide same as an alternative to whatever ghastly concoction I might be about to come up with.

5.30pm – the griddled courgettes go into the serving dish. Pan goes on to boil for pasta, chicken is lifted out of its marinade and onto the griddle pan.

The DVD is jammed. Pause to fast forward over the broken bits while simultaneously trying to mend a toy almost invisible to the naked eye. Set table. Chicken needs flipping.

5.45 – the chicken is resting, the pasta is in the pan. BG’s distress is loud and insistent. Gorgeous Boy gets the feeling he might not like what I’m making either.

6pm – the pasta is drained, mixed in the serving dish with the courgettes, sliced chicken and some pesto that (warning: the smugness is about to go into overdrive, like those Power Rangers) I’d actually made a couple of days earlier. Toasted pine nuts (that are only slightly past their sell-by date) are scattered festively on top. 

OK, so I lied. Most of it was mixed up. I cave under the pressure and serve BG and GB’s portions in their constituent parts. You know, not (shudder)… touching

So, here’s the recipe in full:

Griddled chicken and courgette with pasta pesto
Serves 4
4 medium courgettes, sliced lengthwise and drizzled with olive oil
4 chicken breasts, partially sliced into and opened out
1 lemon
300g dried pasta
pesto (fresh, from a jar, homemade, it’s up to you)
toasted pine nuts, to serve (optional) (because, obviously, everything else is compulsory)
salt, pepper

Cook the sliced courgettes in a ridged griddle pan until soft. Meanwhile, zest and juice the lemon over the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. When the courgettes are cooked, put them in the bottom of a large (warmed) serving dish. Cook the chicken in the griddle pan for 5-7 minutes on each side, until firm to the touch and opaque. Leave to rest under some foil while you cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and combine in the serving dish with the courgettes, sliced chicken, and pesto. If you're enjoying optional pine nuts, then scatter away. Enjoy!

Family-friendliness rating: Pasta? Pesto? Chicken? What’s not to like?!? Sigh… In the end it turned out GB LOVED the pasta pesto element, was luke-warm on the chicken and turned down the courgettes flat, having correctly identified them as a vegetable. BG ate her pasta plain, and conceded the chicken wasn’t bad. Her courgette was eaten.

Cleanup rating: Not bad. Though my griddle pan does tend to sit around (as if awaiting the griddle pan fairy) for a day after I’ve used it

Can you freeze it? No. But the leftovers are great next day.


  1. Have you tried frying grated courgettes in butter? My own Gorgeous Boy (who thinks fruit and veg are far from gorgeous in comparison with anything sugary sweet - aaggh, the daily battles, i can't tell you?!) devours courgettes when i do it this way. Its wonderful with garlic too, but i reserve that for us. Best way to serve it is on top of linguine or other pasta, with a piece of salmon on top of the courgette. (For that, my GB insists on salad cream to get him through the pink fish bit!). Siobhan

  2. Siobhan! Welcome! Thank you for your comment. That's a great idea about the courgettes (I wonder if it would work for other vegetables? Carrots would be good like this too...) I'll give it a try!

  3. That picture is utterly hiarious and a metaphor for my life. Perhaps you could email me the jpeg so I can use it for my FB profile pic.I long for the day when I can sit down and eat Shepherd's Pie with my kidlets. Except we'd have to find a substitute for the potatoes, obviously...

  4. Hi, b1a7d65c-49ac-11eo-a5d3-000bcdb5194.... or may I just call you b1a7d65c? Thank you for your kind words. You are not the only parent to be troubled by Food Separatism. A post to come on the subject shortly, I feel!

  5. No, I'm afraid that I insist upon being called b1a7d65c-49ac-11eo-a5d3-000bcdb5194 in its entirety.

    It's me, Rhona, and I think I have overcome my techno-feebleness so that my name and perhaps even my photo will appear beside this comment. One can only hope.

    I very much look forward to your post on Food Separatism. (Is this a political movement in the under-10s set? Discuss.)