Home: Domain: Kitchen Mission: Locals Only

The freshest chicken and salad you’ll eat all summer

I’m not a slave to trendiness — but one trend I can get behind is buying locally grown food: It supports our area’s economy and preserves our farmland. Plus, actually knowing where my food is coming from is very comforting. But could I create a weeknight meal using only local ingredients?

I thought the hardest part would be shopping. I was wrong. Besides warm-weather farmers’ markets, there are year-round initiatives like White Dog’s Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market and Swarthmore’s Food Co-op. Even chain markets like Wegmans sell local produce. Any-time-of-year cheese from Lancaster and mushrooms from Kennett Square aren’t just for big-name restaurants anymore — they’re for us, too.

For this mission, I planned a summer-bounty menu: veggie-and-herb-packed panzanella salad and chicken stuffed with sausage, mushrooms and goat cheese, an entrée that’s juicy enough to go sauce-less.

In the end, I gave myself a pat on the back. Not counting salt and pepper, there were only three ingredients that weren’t straight from local farms: olive oil, red wine vinegar and bread. But I did use a rustic loaf from Metropolitan Bakery and red wine vinegar made by Di Bruno Bros. (Until we start producing olives like a Mediterranean country, there’s not much I can do about the oil.) It’s a good start. Just don’t call me a ­locavore. Too trendy.

Panzanella salad
Serves 4

For croutons:
1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh thyme
5 c. cubed (about 1/2-inch thick) country bread, crust removed
3 Tbsp. shredded parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

[sidebar]For salad:
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. sliced shallots
4 tomatoes, seeded and
1 1/2 c. baby arugula
3/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 c. raw corn kernels, removed from cob
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/3 c. olive oil

Croutons: Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large, high-sided pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add garlic and thyme; cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat; immediately add bread cubes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parmesan, pinch of salt and pepper; toss again. Spread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer; bake for 12-15 minutes, until dried but not too brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven; let cool.

Salad: In a small bowl, combine vinegar with shallots and let sit for 10 minutes. In a large salad bowl, toss tomatoes, arugula, parsley, corn, basil and croutons. Remove shallots from vinegar and add to salad. Slowly drizzle olive oil into vinegar, whisking until creamy. Dress and toss salad, and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
chicken stuffed with sausage,
mushrooms and goat cheese

Chicken stuffed with sausage, mushrooms and goat cheese
Serves 4
4-5 oz. sausage, casing removed (any spicy kind)
2 c. finely chopped mushrooms
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 c. goat cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken
breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 400° F. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Put sausage in large mixing bowl; leave some fat in pan. Return pan to heat and add mushrooms, garlic and thyme; sauté for 5 minutes until mushrooms have softened. Add mix to sausage and let cool. Then add goat cheese, basil, vinegar, 1/4 tsp. of salt and pinch of pepper, and mix until well combined. Evenly divide mixture and place in the middle of each breast in a line from top to bottom; roll chicken until ends are touching and secure with twine. Season each breast with salt and pepper. In a large, ovenproof sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown chicken on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and put pan in oven. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes, remove twine, slice and serve.