cilantro bruschetta on prosciutto

I had the pleasure of dining at a fantastic Tapas restaurant in East Village this Friday with my boyfriend at a place named The Barrel, where among many delicacies they served some excellent bruschetta.  Inspired by the way their tomato topping seemed to burst with freshness on my tongue, I decided to give it a go in my own kitchen, despite my lack of basil.  It turns out cilantro works just as well!


Cilantro Bruschetta on Prosciutto

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 large tomato, diced into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 baguette, or equivalent bread
prosciutto, thinly sliced
3-4 leaves cilantro (original recipe uses basil), chopped
parsley flakes

Using a sharp knife, dice the tomato as small as you can.  Aim for 1/4″ cubes, and be sure your knife is sharp – dull knives tend to mash the tomato, releasing the juices onto the cutting board, which we don’t want.  We want the juices to explode in our mouths with each bite!


Next, chop up the raw onion and add it to the mix.  An alternative to using raw onion is to saute it lightly before using on the grill – this gives it a less crunchy, but sweeter flavor.


Add the minced garlic, chopped cilantro, parsley flakes, salt, and pepper to the mix and drizzle with lemon juice.  Blend, and set the topping aside.


In a medium skillet, brush both sides of each baguette slice (or French bread, or sourdough in my case) with olive oil and heat until both sides are lightly crispy.  On a plate, top each slice with a generous spoonful of bruschetta topping and mozzarella cheese, and serve with prosciutto garnished with cilantro.  Enjoy!


braised balsamic chicken with bacon rotini pasta

Today I surprised my family by making a full-course dinner consisting of two dishes: braised balsamic chicken  and a variation of this penne pasta with spinach and bacon.  Having still not finished the blueberry yogurt cookies and apple pie from two days ago, I thought it would be a good idea to transition into cooking “real” food (a.k.a. attempt to cook meat without hideously charring it to bits).


As it turns out, dinner was a success!  The chicken came out perfectly juicy and the pasta light and crunchy with bacon bits.  As I was clearing away the dishes, my mom jokingly suggested that after tonight’s dinner, she might never have to cook again.  Ha!  Good one.

Braised Balsamic Chicken with Bacon Rotini Pasta


Braised Balsamic Chicken:

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into pieces
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tomatoes, vine or roma, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts.  Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken, and season with basil and thyme. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

Rotini Pasta with Bacon:

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 (12-oz.) package of rotini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tomato, vine or roma, diced

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the rotini and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water (so the noodles don’t stick) and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until browned and crisp, and then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.  Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.