Three Things

Crispy chicken with pea shoots, a roasted eggplant salad, rum punch for summer

Greetings summer lovers! Hope you enjoyed the best day of the year, which is to say, the longest day of the year, which is to say the sunlight-iest day of the year. Over the weekend, we kickstarted summer, heading up to Vermont— land of the Creemee, the Heady Topper, and the 80% vaccinated. Our home base was near Okemo, at this 200 year old recently remodeled motel, and we drove around southern Vermont, hiking and hanging in Manchester, Woodstock, and Barnard. Alas, your weekly dispatch of trifectery…

1. Dinner Tonight: Crispy Chicken with Pea Shoot Salad

I used to always make this classic crispy chicken with an arugula salad, but lately I’ve been fond of swapping out the arugula for pea shoots, which are popping up everywhere right now and add such a nice, sweet cool crunch to the dish. (I also find shoots are way more predictably sweet than spring peas or sugar snaps.) This platter meal works for pretty much any occasion, dinner tonight on a Monday or dinner for friends on a Saturday. Room temperature, hot off the pan, cold eaten with your fingers in front of the fridge.

Breaded Chicken Cutlets with a Mess of Pea Shoots and Tomatoes

5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as necessary
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups plain or panko bread crumbs*
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), patted dry, and pounded very flat to create an even thickness throughout (place chicken in between plastic wrap and bang using a rolling pin or a meat pounder)
4 cups pea shoots
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons finely minced shallot
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Add oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Set up your dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the eggs, one plate for the flour, and one plate for the bread crumbs seasoned with the salt and pepper. Using a fork coat your chicken pieces first in the flour (shaking off the excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.

Fry each breast in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Try not to crowd the pan. The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.

Remove and drain the chicken on to a paper-towel-lined dinner platter tented with foil if you have more pieces to fry. Add more oil to the pan and fry the remaining breasts.

Meanwhile, in a large deep bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add pea shoots, tomatoes, and onion and toss. Remove foil from platter and top the chicken with the pea shoot salad.

Note: Feel free to add any of the following to the breadcrumbs: 2 teaspoons mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne, fresh thyme leaves, sprinkle of sesame seeds, or freshly grated Parmesan. A side of ketchup or honey mustard, hold the salad, for the littles.

2. The Eggplant Dish That Will Make You a Believer

Because I live with a bunch of eggplant skeptics, I am always on the lookout for recipes that I think will convince them otherwise. Last week, that came in the form of this riDICulously tasty roasted eggplant with tahini sauce, pistachios, and za’atar. It was the creation of Brooks Reitz, a big restaurant guy in Charleston, and all-around bon vivant who started an cooking video series on instagram during the pandemic. (He also writes a great substack newsletter that is packed with travel, style, culture, food and drink recs if you’re into that kind of thing.) His video last week was dedicated to this dish, and I don’t know if it was because I was starving while I watched it or because it just so happened I had every ingredient he called for, but I was able to put down my phone, turn the oven to 450, and sit down to that plate you’re looking at there a half hour later. I absolutely plan to double it and serve next time someone comes over as part of a small dish spread…and maybe my own family will actually partake.

3. A Rum Punch for Summer

We did it, we bought a juicer, and I’m proud to say, its inaugural spin went in the service of ringing in the weekend right. (Next up….uh, celery?) I don’t think I’ve had a rum punch since my Caribbean honeymoon in 1997, but what can I say, the cocktail was calling and I answered. This version is a 1:2 rum to juice. Andy used a mix of light (Bacardi) and dark rum (Goslings, but if you only use one, use light, and it will be fine!) and then a mix of juiced mangoes, pineapple, and oranges and a lime garnish. A lot of recipes called for grenadine so if you are missing that unnaturally fire-engine tint, go for it. Is it the weekend yet?

See you in a few!