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Chicken and vegetables grill while the pasta cooks. Stir it all together –at the table?– with goat cheese and fresh herbs, and a fast summer pasta is ready for dinner on the deck.

This post celebrates 5 complete years of blogging on MORE TIME AT THE TABLE. Thanks for your loving kindnesses.  Here’s to the next five years!  Book almost here.   I’m reading the proof copy now. So exciting!!

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                                                    (above: iphone photo by sean anthony morgan)

Ok, now on to the pasta dinner on the grill…

For a few years, I’ve loved making summer pastas mostly on the grill.  No big heavy sauce on the stove for hours like wintertime, just a few choice lovelies grilled to perfection and stirred into hot pasta (scroll down for pasta info) with some fresh herbs and maybe a little cheese.  If you’ve a burner on the side of your grill, you can do the pasta outside as well and save your kitchen and you from the damp heat. If it’s not too warm, you can use your stove, which may be quicker.

 My grilled eggplant and sausage pasta made on the grill  is one of the favorites on our deck and also on the blog.  It might soon be one of your summer go-tos as well.

This is all a bit nastily one-sided because if you read this blog very often, you’ll know I don’t know from gas or charcoal grills.  Nor do I want to. I’m happy with a big, heavy double cast iron grill on my gas stove (covers two burners) and will attempt nearly anything on it including a boned leg of lamb.  I’m thrilled to come up with any number of summery, grill-type recipes, you see…. But that outside sacrificial cooking is up to Dave or whomever else wants to make meat and vegetables — or anything else — on a fire.
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A photo food story before the recipe, which you might not need after seeing the pics…  
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      (above: water seasoned with salt, pepper, cloves of garlic, and basil leaves or stems.)
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grilled chicken and vegetable pasta with fresh herbs and goat cheese

Begin by heating the kettle of water, but heat the grill soon after.  You’ll be cooking the pasta –and the tomatoes, very briefly — and grilling the chicken and vegetables at just about the same time.  If one is done before the other, cover and keep warm until you’re ready to stir everything all together with the goat cheese, fresh herbs, and lemon zest. Two cooks would be helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  If you’d like different vegetables (zucchini?) or would like to add some grilled asparagus, for example, go for it.  Do read through the recipe before beginning.  4 – 6 Servings

PASTA:

  • Salt, pepper, a pinch of crushed red pepper, fresh herbs or stems from basil, and two peeled, whole garlic cloves.
  • 1 pound whole wheat linguine or other pasta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Fill a 10 or 12-quart kettle 3/4 full of water seasoned with the salt, peppers, herbs, and garlic.  Cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente or nearly done. (10-12 minutes for dried pasta) Tip in the chopped tomatoes, let cook a minute or two, scoop out two ladles of hot water into a bowl (to thin the sauce later), and drain. Return to the kettle and keep warm if the chicken and vegetables aren’t done. The pasta will need to be warm to melt the goat cheese. (see PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.)

GRILLING THE CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES:

  • 2 large sweet onions sliced  1/2-inch thick
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers (different colors), trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 10 large mushrooms, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 – 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat grill to medium-high and begin by grilling the vegetables,  adding the chicken after three minutes or so, (all brushed with olive oil and seasoned liberally with kosher salt and pepper) for a total of about 15 minutes cooking time until vegetables are tender and the chicken is done through–clear juices and no pink showing. (165 degrees Fahrenheit for the chicken if tested with an instant read thermometer.)  Slice the chicken into 1/4 – 1/2-inch pieces and chop the grilled vegetables into bite sized pieces before adding to the pasta.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley, divided (use half in the pasta and half as garnish at table)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Hot pasta water and/or heavy cream, if needed to thin sauce

When the pasta, chicken, and vegetables are done, stir them together in the pasta pot and season with just a pinch of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Stir in the goat cheese, half of the fresh herbs (reserve the rest for garnish), and the lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings. If sauce is too thick, stir in 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot pasta water  (or more if needed) or 1/4 cup heavy cream to thin it.  A combination of hot water and cream works just as well. Serve hot or at room temperature with the small bowl of fresh parsley and basil on the table for garnish.

WINE:   Three choices:  –Sancerre to love up the goat cheese, Chardonnay or White Burgundy for the overall dish, or Rosé because it’s summer!

DESSERT:  Fresh strawberries and blueberries.  Maybe a drizzle of local honey.  Maybe not.

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(above: our sour pie cherries coming on)
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about the pasta
I’m partial, if not addicted, to Whole Foods 365 Whole Wheat organic pastas.  They make up and taste just as wonderfully wonderful as regular semolina pasta and don’t have that faintly funny-funky whole wheat bite so many whole wheat pastas have.  They don’t cost any more than most other good dried pastas and are one of the several items I stock up on when I make a Whole Foods run.  No, I’m not employed in any way by Whole Foods, but I’m happy to share products of which I’m fond.  (I hope my high school English teacher’s reading this.)
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If you choose fresh pasta –worth the investment — it’ll be done in two shakes of a stick or maybe 3 minutes, whichever makes more sense to you. I buy fresh pasta in the refrigerator case of my regular old grocery store, King Soopers, which is Kroger to those of you east of me.  You’re welcome to make your own and should check out my favorite homemade pasta blog post by veteran blogger, cook book author, and pastry chef David Lebovitz.

A last happy possibility might be a package of Cipriani pasta, which is dried and a wee bit on the pricy side ($8 or $9 a pound), but worth it.  It tastes very like fresh pasta, but sits on your pantry shelf. Ah.  Best quality ingredients are still lots cheaper than eating out; try this pasta sometime.

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(above:  the only iris — my favorite flower — to make it through last week’s hail storm)
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And, by the way, Miss Gab is so very much improved; she’s just about her old self.  Thanks, God.
Sing a new song,
Alyce