Lesson #29: A Low Carb Mideast Feast

Low Carb Cooking 101

Next week the infamous “Mideast Feast” is scheduled for the 6th graders of Rapid Run Middle School. They’re studying the Mideast, you see, and the teachers and parents provide the feast as an extension of their lessons. I remember my son participating in this when he was in the 6th grade; now it’s my daughter’s turn.

The kids may have learned their lessons, but I haven’t. As usual, by the time I returned the sign-up sheet to the school they had as much powdered lemonade mix, cups, paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic silverware as they needed. I’m stuck with preparing actual food – again. I’ll never learn. Heavy sigh.

I ran a trial run of the recipes this past week, and everybody liked them – even though I substituted zucchini “zoodles” for the egg noodles in the original recipe of Poppy Seed Noodles. (I did promise my daughter that I would make the recipe with “real” noodles for the actual Mideast Feast. My little Attila the Hun doesn’t want to be too different. At least, she wants to choose the ways that she’s different, and low carbing at school isn’t one of them, even though zucchini is her favorite vegetable.)

So pull up a chair and have a Mideast Feast.

Here’s this evening’s menu:

  • Mushroom Garlic Chicken
  • Poppy Seed Zoodles
  • Mixed Green Salad With Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Here’s the shopping list for the meal: (You may very well already have some of these things on hand.)

  • 6 chicken breasts with skin and ribs or 1 2-3 pound chicken, cut up
  • 12 ounces mushrooms
  • 4 large zucchini squash
  • fresh or dried chopped parsley
  • 1 small head Boston lettuce
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 2 Belgian endives
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, or minced garlic
  • fresh red raspberries (optional – for garnish)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dried thyme
  • canned chicken broth
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • 1 bottle raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
  • low carb bake mix (any brand)
  • poppy seeds
  • salt
  • pepper
  • butter

Here’s the game plan:

Set the table first. Better yet, have your husband or one of the kids do it.

Start the Mushroom Garlic Chicken first, dredging and browning the chicken before you proceed to the rest of the meal preparation.

Once the chicken pieces are simmering (see recipe), wash and toss the salad greens, then place them in the refrigerator to chill.

When the salad greens are chilling, prepare the Poppy Seed Zoodles. Once them are cooked, place them in a covered casserole to keep warm. (If they cool too much, zap them in the microwave for a minute before you serve them.

Place the salad greens on the plates and drizzle them with the raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. Garnish the salads with fresh raspberries, if desired.

Serve the Mushroom Garlic Chicken and the Poppy Seed Zoodles on dinner plates, and sit down to a well-deserved, relaxing meal.

And, finally, here’s the recipes:

Mushroom Garlic Chicken

  • 6 chicken breasts with skin and ribs or 1 2-3 pound chicken, cut up
  • 1/3 cup low carb bake mix (any brand)
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, or 6 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup canned chicken broth
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat them dry. Season the low carb bake mix with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned bake mix. Shake the excess bake mix off the chicken pieces.

Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a heavy, nonstick skillet. Saute the chicken skin side down until it is well-browned. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Turn the chicken and continue cooking until the mushrooms are evenly cooked and the chicken is brown on the other side.

Pour off any fat. Add the balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover and simmer for an additional 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked completely through and the juices run clear.

Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Poppy Seed Zoodles

  • 4 large zucchini squash
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 3-4 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • fresh or dried chopped parsley (to taste)

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into ribbons, rotating the zucchini in your hand until you get down to the seedy center. (See the note below about what to do with the center.) Set the ribbons aside.

Put the olive oil into a large skillet. (I use a huge, deep skillet designed for frying chicken.) Heat over medium-high. Add the zucchini ribbons and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the zucchini ribbons are crisp-tender.

Drain off any excess olive oil (I pour it over the dog’s dry food) and return the zucchini ribbons to the skillet. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Toss the zucchini ribbons and butter until the butter is melted. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and poppy seeds and toss the everything again to even distribute the ingredients.

Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

Mixed Green Salad With Red Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 small head Boston lettuce
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 2 Belgian endives
  • 1 bottle raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
  • fresh red raspberries (optional – for garnish)

Wash the greens, drain them thoroughly, and then either pat them dry or spin them dry in a salad spinner.

Tear the lettuces and the radicchio into small pieces. Remove the stems from the watercress and the arugula. Slice the endives crosswise or cut them lengthwise into then slivers. In a large bowl, toss all the greens to mix them thoroughly.

Serve on individual salad plates with raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

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