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This delicious recipe from thekitchn.com turns economical chicken thighs into a dinner party-worthy entrée. Brown the chicken thighs, top with a balsamic, Dijon, honey, garlic and sage glaze, sprinkle with some fresh figs and roast. I used dried figs instead of fresh and they worked well.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for a balsamic vinegar with only naturally occurring sulfites and a Dijon with no additives or preservatives. I use Spectrum Organic balsamic vinegar and President’s Choice Old-Fashioned Dijon.

Brown chicken thighs in oven-safe pan

Top with balsamic, Dijon, honey, garlic and sage glaze and add figs

Balsamic and mustard-glazed chicken with figs

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey

1 tablespoon (15 ml) coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds (900 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 fresh figs, halved or quartered if large

Preparation:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F (176°C).

To make the glaze, whisk the vinegar, mustard, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil, honey, sage, and garlic together in a small bowl; set aside.

Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil in a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and golden-brown, adjusting the heat if the skin begins to burn, 6 to 8 minutes.

Flip the chicken thighs and scatter the figs around them. Carefully pour the glaze evenly over the chicken and figs. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, spooning some of the glaze in the skillet back over the chicken halfway through, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), 10 to 12 minutes total. Serve the chicken with the sauce. Serves 4-6.

From thekitchn.com

These tasty chicken legs from Jamie Oliver are quick and easy to make and are a great weekend dinner on a chilly night. Nestle chicken legs, basil, tomatoes, garlic and hot pepper in a baking dish and cook low and slow until the chicken is tender and the skin is crisp.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

This recipe uses all-natural ingredients. If you use dried hot pepper flakes, check to be sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Nestle chicken legs in baking dish and add tomatoes, garlic, basil and spices

Tender and crisp chicken legs

Ingredients:

4 chicken legs

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 big bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

2 big handfuls red and yellow cherry tomatoes and ripe plum or beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes halved, plum tomatoes quartered

1 whole bulb garlic, broken into cloves

1 fresh red chile, finely chopped, or a big pinch of dried chile flakes

Olive oil

Preparation:

Heat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Season your chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer, skin side up. Throw in all the basil leaves and stalks, then chuck in your tomatoes. Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chile and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath.

Place in the oven, uncovered, for 1½ hours, turning any of the exposed tomatoes halfway through, until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat is falling off the bone. If after an hour or so the skin isn’t crisping to your liking, you can put it under the broiler for a bit at the end, rotating the pan occasionally and watching closely, until you get the skin as brown as you like. Just don’t let the sauce simmer too vigorously or the meat might toughen up.

You can serve the chicken with some simple mashed potatoes. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving. You could even make it part of a pasta dish—remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred it, then toss into a bowl of linguini or spaghetti and serve at once. Serves 4.

From Jamie Oliver

This delicious noodle dish from Cook’s Illustrated features ground pork, a spicy sauce, ginger, garlic and a delicious boost from ground Sichuan peppercorns.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use tamari instead of soy sauce and check the white pepper, hot pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorns for colour or anti-caking agents. I have never been able to find additive-free oyster sauce, so I make my own; the recipe is below. Use all-natural sesame paste or peanut butter and sesame oil. I use Marukan rice vinegar and Imagine Organic brand stock.

Marinate ground pork

Make sauce

Toast and grind peppercorns

Combine ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes

Brown pork, then add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes

Add sauce and simmer

Spicy Sichuan Noodles

Ingredients:

8 ounces (226 g) ground pork

3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce

2 tablespoons (30 ml) Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry

Ground white pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) oyster sauce (see recipe below)

4 tablespoons (60 ml) Asian sesame paste or peanut butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice vinegar

1  cup (250 ml) chicken stock 1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon/15 ml)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons/30 ml)

¾ (3 ml) teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon (15 ml) toasted sesame oil

12 ounces (340 g) dried Asian noodles or 1 pound (454 g) fresh Asian noodles (width between linguine and fettuccine) or 12 ounces (340 g) linguine

3 medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/3 cup/75 ml)

2 cups (500 ml) bean sprouts (about 6 ounces/170 g) (optional)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) Sichuan peppercorns toasted in small dry skillet until fragrant, then ground

Oyster sauce

1 ½ tbsp. Tamari soy sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp cornstarch

Preparation:

Combine pork, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce, sherry, and pinch white pepper in small bowl; stir well with fork and set aside while preparing other ingredients. Whisk together oyster-flavoured sauce, remaining soy sauce, peanut butter or sesame paste, vinegar, and pinch white pepper in medium bowl. Whisk in chicken stock and set aside.

Bring 4 quarts (1 L) water to boil in large stockpot over high heat.

Meanwhile, heat 12-inch (30 cm) skillet over high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add peanut oil and swirl to coat pan bottom. Add pork and cook, scraping along pan bottom and breaking up pork into small pieces with wide metal or wooden spatula, until pork is in small well-browned bits, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter/chicken stock mixture; bring to boil, whisking to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to blend flavors, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in sesame oil.

While sauce simmers, add noodles to boiling water and cook until tender (refer to package directions, but use them only as a guideline and be sure to taste for doneness). Drain noodles; divide noodles among individual bowls, ladle a portion of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with scallions, bean sprouts, and ground Sichuan peppercorns, if using; serve immediately. Serves 4.

From Cook’s Illustrated

This baked pasta recipe from Bon Appetit is perfect comfort food on a chilly fall night. You will need a few hours to prepare this dish, but you can make it ahead.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Unico canned tomatoes. Check the ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella to ensure they do not contain colour.

Make marinara sauce

Cook pasta shells

Pipe ricotta mixture into shells and layer over sauce

Top with more sauce and with mozzarella

Bake and then brown under the broiler

Stuffed shells with marinara sauce

Ingredients:

Classic marinara sauce

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 sprigs basil

2 28-ounce cans (796 ml) whole peeled tomatoes

Stuffed shells

12 ounces (340 g) jumbo pasta shells

2 large egg yolks

1 large egg

2 cups (500 ml) whole-milk fresh ricotta

3 ounces (85 g) Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving

¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped parsley

8 ounces (226 g) low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated, divided

3 cups (750 ml) Classic marinara sauce, divided

Preparation:

Classic marinara sauce

Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 5 minutes; stir in basil. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go; season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Stuffed shells

Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C). Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente; drain. Run under cold water to stop the cooking and drain again.

Lightly whisk egg yolks and egg in a large bowl. Stir in ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and 1½ cups (375 ml) mozzarella; season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to a large re-sealable plastic bag.

Spread 1½ cups (375 ml) marinara sauce in a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 22 cm) baking dish. Snip off 1 end of plastic bag and, working one at a time, squeeze filling into shells, arranging them in a single layer in baking dish as you go. Top with remaining 1½ cups (375 ml) marinara sauce and remaining mozzarella. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake shells until sauce is bubbling throughout, 35–40 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Carefully move rack to top of oven and heat broiler. Uncover pasta and broil until lightly browned on top, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano and more Parmesan and drizzle with oil. Serves 8.

Do Ahead: Pasta can be baked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat, covered, at 375° (190° C).

From Bon Appetit

Nicoise salad usually features tuna, but this recipe from Canadian Living uses rainbow trout, which is a nice change. Hard boil eggs, cook green beans and mini potatoes, sauté or bake the fish, arrange on a plate with greens, olives and tomatoes and drizzle with a lemon and tarragon dressing.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and natural honey. I used President’s Choice Old-Fashioned Dijon and green garlic-stuffed olives; both are additive-free.

Cook the green beans until tender-crisp

Use the same water to cook the mini potatoes

Saute or bake the trout

Make the lemon-tarragon vinaigrette

Trout Nicoise Salad

Ingredients:

4 eggs

8 oz (225 g) green beans, trimmed

10 mini Yukon Gold potatoes

2 trout fillets, (1 lb/450 g total), halved crosswise

¼ tsp (1 ml) salt

¼ tsp (1 ml) pepper

1/3 cup (75 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice

2 tsp (10 ml) finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard

1 tsp (5 ml) liquid honey

4 cups (1 L) baby salad greens

20 nicoise olives

2 small tomatoes, cut in 6 wedges each

Preparation:

Pour enough cold water into a saucepan to come at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) above eggs. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Immediately remove from heat; let stand for 18 minutes.

Drain and run cold water over eggs for 1 minute; drain and peel off shells. Cut eggs in half lengthwise.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling lightly salted water, blanch green beans until tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Remove with tongs to bowl of ice water to cool; drain.

Add potatoes to same pot of boiling water; cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and cut in half.

Sprinkle trout with half each of the salt and pepper. In large skillet, heat ½ tsp (2.5 ml) of the oil over medium-high heat; cook trout, turning once, until fish flakes easily when tested with fork, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine lemon juice, tarragon, mustard, honey and remaining salt and pepper. Gradually drizzle in remaining oil, whisking until emulsified.

Divide eggs, green beans, potatoes, salad greens, olives and tomatoes among 4 plates. Top each with 1 piece of trout; drizzle each with one-quarter of the dressing. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This tasty dish from Chef Daphna Rabinovitch takes only minutes to make. Pound chicken breasts until they are thin, dredge in flour and cook them. Once the cutlets are done, make a quick pan sauce flavoured with lemon and capers.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Imagine chicken stock, which has no artificial colours or flavours. Be sure to use fresh lemon juice. I use Unico capers, which are additive-free.

Pound chicken until it is then and then dredge in flour

Fry until browned and cooked through

While chicken rests, make a pan sauce

Chicken piccata

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, filet removed, pounded thin to ¼ inch (0.64 cm) thickness

¼ cup (60 ml) all purpose flour

¼ tsp (1 ml) each salt and pepper

3 tbsp (45 ml) vegetable oil (not olive oil)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

2 tsp (10 ml) grated lemon rind

¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp (30 ml) drained capers

2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley

3 tbsp (45 ml) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preparation:

In large shallow bowl or plate, combine flour, salt and pepper. Carefully coat chicken breasts in flour mixture, reserving any remaining flour.

Heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add cutlets, two at a time, to prevent overcrowding of the pan, and cook, turning once, for 3 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Transfer cooked cutlets to plate; cover to keep warm. Add remaining oil to pan; repeat with last two cutlets, transferring to plate to keep warm once cooked.

Stir garlic into pan; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp (30 ml) of reserved flour mixture; cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Pour in chicken stock; bring to boil. Boil for about 3 minutes or until reduced to ½ cup (125 ml). Pour in lemon rind, juice and capers, simmer for another minute or so until thickened and flavourful. Swirl in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve. Serves 4.

Daphna Rabinovitch

Recently, the grocery store was selling whole rainbow trout. What a treat! There’s nothing better than a whole, cleaned fish, stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon slices, and then steamed or grilled. A fish basket is handy for turning the fish on the grill – mine was elsewhere, so I used a hamburger basket instead.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The fish, herbs and lemon slices are additive-free.

Stuff fish with herbs and lemon slices and place in oiled grill basket or foil

Grill over indirect heat until just cooked through

Let fish rest for five minutes

Grilled rainbow trout

Ingredients:

1 rainbow trout, about 1 lb. (454 g)

Salt and pepper

A handful of tender fresh herbs, such as dill, cilantro or parsley, washed

1 lemon, half thinly sliced and half cut into wedges

Preparation:

Preheat gas or charcoal grill and arrange it for indirect cooking (i.e., hot on one part of the grill and cooler on another).

Rinse fish inside and out with cool water and pat dry. Remove head of fish if you wish. Sprinkle inside of fish with salt and pepper. Stuff fish with herbs and lemon slices. Brush the fish on both sides with oil and place in an oiled fish basket. If you don’t have a fish basket, you can keep the stuffing in by tying a piece of kitchen twine around the fish in a couple of places. You could also place the fish in a packet of greased foil.

Place the fish on preheated, oiled grill. Cook, turning once, over indirect heat until fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. If using a thermometer, remove the fish when it is about 140 to 145 degrees F (60 to 63 degrees C). You can also grill the fish for a minute on each side on the hot part of the grill to brown it. Let the fish rest, covered, for about five minutes.

To serve, remove fish from basket or foil. Gently remove stuffing and skin on one side, then lift the flesh away from the skeleton. Repeat with other side. Serve fish with lemon wedges. Serve 2.

This wonderful salad from Tara O’Brady of Seven Spoons, which appeared in the Globe and Mail, takes full advantage of tomato and zucchini season. Toast bread for croutons and roast lemon for the dressing and garnish. Combine the lemon juice with basil, parsley (or other fresh herbs), vinegar, honey and chili flakes, fry the halloumi (a semi-hard, unripened brined cheese that can be fried without melting), dress the tomatoes and zucchini and combine for a delicious summer meal.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used an Ace bakery baguette and Eden Organic red wine vinegar (instead of white). Check the halloumi and chili flakes to make sure they are additive-free.

Chop tomatoes and slice zucchini

Roast lemon slices

Toast croutons in the oven

Fry halloumi

Top halloumi with tomatoes and zucchini, lemon slices, croutons and dressing

Ingredients:

1½ pounds (680 g) assorted heirloom tomatoes

1 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds

Medium-grained kosher salt, as needed

½ loaf rustic French bread, about 8 ounces (227 g), torn

½ cup (125 ml) olive oil, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, preferably organic, well scrubbed

8 ounces (227 g) halloumi, sliced

¾ cup (180 ml) basil leaves, loosely packed

¼ cup (60 ml) flat-leafed parsley, loosely packed

1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar or honey, if needed

Dried chili flakes

Preparation:

Preheat an oven to 425°F (218°C).

Cut the tomatoes into a variety of shapes; small ones can be halved, larger ones cut into slices and wedges. Different cuts will bring texture to the salad. Gently fold the tomatoes with the zucchini in a large bowl, along with a good sprinkling of salt. Tip the tomatoes into a colander then set it over the bowl. Leave aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Toss the bread with a generous glaze of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons (30 ml). Season with salt and pepper. Scatter pieces on a small baking sheet.

Cut one lemon into thin rounds, removing any seeds; if you have a mandoline (or patience), slices about 1/8-inch (0.32 cm) thick is what you’re aiming for. Slice half of the second, and leave the last half whole. Coat the sliced lemons lightly with olive oil and arrange on another small baking pan or something similar. Place the half lemon alongside.

Place both sheet pans in the hot oven. Toast the bread until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes, tossing once. Roast the lemon until touched with char and deeply caramelized, 12 to 15 minutes. When you open the oven to shuffle the bread, carefully remove the lemon half, using tongs. Set the lemon half aside to cool for a few minutes.

While the croutons and lemons are still in the oven, set a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a heavy nonstick one over medium-high heat. Without adding any oil, dry fry the halloumi until deeply coloured, about 1 minute each side. Work in batches as necessary. Arrange the slices on a serving dish.

Make the dressing by squeezing the juice from the roasted lemon into the carafe of an upright blender. Tear in the basil and parsley, then add a splash of vinegar, and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then puree. Taste, adjust seasoning and balance with more oil or vinegar as called for, and sweeten with sugar or honey if it’s too sharp. Run the machine again, then add a pinch of chili flakes.

Once the bread and lemon slices are sufficiently tanned, build the salad atop the halloumi. First arrange the tomatoes and zucchini, followed by the croutons and lemons. Top with dressing, offering more at the table. Eat immediately. Serves 4-6.

From Tara O’Brady in the Globe and Mail

The ingredient list for this recipe is a bit long, but the results are worth it. Combine chiles, garlic, ginger, yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and spices in a blender and puree until smooth. Use the marinade for skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs; it keeps the meat juicy and adds great flavour.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the spices and peppers for colour and anti-caking agents. Use fresh lime juice and an all-natural yogurt; I use Astro brand.

Combine ingredients in blender

Marinate chicken and then grill under cooked through

Chile-and-yogurt-marinated grilled chicken

Ingredients:

7 dried hot chiles, broken into pieces, seeds removed

1½-inch (3.8 cm) piece ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves

½ cup (125 ml) plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) chopped cilantro stems

3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground coriander

1 tablespoon (15 ml) smoked paprika

1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) crushed dried fenugreek leaves or seeds

1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) garam masala

1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) ground cumin

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus more for grill

1½ pounds (680 g) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, patted dry

Kosher salt

Preparation:

Place chiles in a medium bowl and pour in hot water to cover. Let sit until chiles are very soft, about 30 minutes; drain. Blend chiles, ginger, garlic, yogurt, cilantro stems, lime juice, coriander, paprika, fenugreek leaves, garam masala, cumin, and 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a blender until smooth. Transfer marinade to a large resealable plastic bag. Season chicken generously with salt and add to marinade. Seal bag and turn to coat chicken. Chill at least 2 hours.

Let chicken sit at room temperature 1 hour before grilling.

Prepare a grill for medium heat; oil grate. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag, and grill, turning every minute or so, until beginning to char in spots, 8–10 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5–10 minutes before serving. Serves 4. Do Ahead: Chicken can be marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

From Bon Appetit

I prefer chicken or salmon burgers to beef, so I was looking forward to trying these chicken burgers from Canadian Living. I wasn’t disappointed — these are easy to make, hold together well and are moist and flavourful, thanks to the cheese, basil and sun dried tomatoes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the cheeses, buns, breadcrumbs and sun dried tomatoes for additives and preservatives. Genuine parmesan cheese is additive free. I used Tre Stelle bocconcini cheese, 4C panko breadcrumbs, D’Italiano buns and Aurora sun dried tomatoes.

These chicken burgers contain parmesan cheese and sun dried tomatoes

Serve burgers with tomato, basil and bocconcini

Ingredients:

4 slices bocconcini cheese (one 4-oz/125 g ball)

1 plum tomato sliced

4 fresh basil leaves

4 hamburger buns

Patties

1 lb (454 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 egg

1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

½ onion grated

2 garlic cloves minced

1/3 cup (75 ml) grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup (60 ml) dry breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil packed sun dried tomatoes

¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt and pepper

Preparation:

Patties: In food processor, pulse chicken until coarsely ground; set aside.

In large bowl, beat egg with water; stir in onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Mix in chicken. Shape into four ¾ -inch (2 cm) thick patties.

Place patties on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until digital thermometer inserted sideways into centre reads 165°F (74°C), 12 to 14 minutes.

Sandwich burgers, Bocconcini, tomato and basil in buns. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

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