Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bruschetta Chicken Rice Bowl

Italian Food is a favorite of mine.  Always has been.

It was a given that one day I would travel to Italy as I love the food, the people, the culture, and the history of this wonderful country.  I was blessed to be able to visit Italy with my mom quite a few years ago.  One of the best trips ever!

We stayed in Rome for a week and then we were off to Venice.  Rome is a wonderful city full of history and excellent food.  We were dying over all the food we ate.  We found a quaint restaurant near our hotel that we visited just about every day for either lunch, a snack, or dinner.  It was a family owned restaurant and we became quick friends with the owner, Giuseppe.  His son was living in California at the time, for college, which he was so proud of.  This commonality brought us together quickly and he became a wonderful friend during our stay.

Giuseppe made us feel so welcome in his restaurant, as if we were coming into his home.  The food was heavenly.  He usually had a special made entree which he would recommend and we greedily ate up.  However, every meal started out with a piece of Bruschetta.  Oh the flavors were to die for, the plump, juicy tomatoes, with pungent garlic mixed in, with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some basil over a toasted baguette!  Oh my!  My mouth is watering just remembering that one delicious piece that opened your appetite.

My love of Bruschetta started there and has never left me. So today I wanted to take those flavors and adding some chicken for protein recreate them in the ever so popular rice bowl.  Everyone loves a rice bowl right?  So why not mix it up and create an Italian one with the outstanding flavors of Brushetta.  Simple, yet tasty.   I made a rice pilaf which provides you with more flavor, however, feel free to use brown rice, long grain white rice, or instant rice.  Anything will do really.  Enjoy this dish as the perfect lunch or dinner in 30 minutes.

Here's to you Giuseppe!

Bruschetta Chicken Rice Bowl

serves 4 

Rice Pilaf:

    1/4 c orzo pasta
    1 T unsalted butter
    3/4 c yellow onion, finely chopped
    Pinch of kosher salt
    1 c long-grain white rice
    1 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth

    2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    salt & pepper
    1 tsp garlic powder
    2 T olive oil
    3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    4 tsp fresh parsley, minced

    For the rice:  heat a small saucepan over high heat until hot. Add the pasta, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted.   Add onion and salt, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

    Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let pilaf stand, covered, 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile pound your chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap to an even thickness about 1/4-1/2".  Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and the garlic powder.  Heat a medium skillet of medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and allow to heat.  Add the chicken breasts and cook about 4-5 minutes total until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.  Add the tomatoes and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes until fragrant and heated through.  Slice the chicken in to strips or bite sized chunks.

To assemble the bowls:  Take 4 small individual bowls and place rice in the bottom filling up about 3/4 way up the bowl. Add chicken and tomato/garlic mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve.

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