My grandmother Catherine married very young and by the age of 17 had two children. When her parents passed away, she took in her younger brother George who became more like a brother to my dad than an uncle. When Uncle George married my Aunt Rose, they moved into the apartment directly across the hall from my Nanny. Literally, their doors faced each other and you could walk across the hall in two steps. Aunt Rose and Uncle George had two daughters, my cousins Kathleen and Rosemarie. Kathleen and I were the same age and graduated from the same high school.
I have so many fond memories of family life on Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood, NY. My family was all in the same building, with other family members living in the next building over. It was so cool to be able to roam the apartment building and visit different homes during our many visits. I liked the sense of freedom we had there as a kid that I just didn’t have living in our one family home. With all apartments in the same building, there was no need for us kids to go outside to visit each other. This made our parents feel secure and we were allowed to go across the hall and downstairs to my Aunt Catherine’s apartment.
Kathleen married her husband Pete and for many years they lived in the neighborhood. When Pete retired, they returned to his homeland of Italy and have lived there ever since.
Kathy and Pete live in Lucca, Italy these days and have quite a beautiful place with a huge parcel of land. Pete has an extensive garden which is quite impressive and grows most of his own produce.
Most recipes Pete cooks use ingredients fresh from his garden, including tomatoes when making Sunday sauce. This chicken recipe calls for dried basil and lemon and is quite simple to make. The result is a light, refreshing lemon chicken sauce that will leave you wanting more. Pete’s recipe called for bowties and broccoli, which I substituted for his homemade gnocchi recipe and peas. This substitution fit what I had in the house and personally, I thought the peas would add a nice sweetness to the dish. It was delicious and light, leaving us feeling full but not bloated. I can’t wait to see how this tastes tomorrow when I eat the leftover for lunch.
This recipe is simple enough for a weeknight meal, taking about 30 minutes from start to finish. The gnocchi obviously adds more time, but is so worth it! I hope you give this one a try.
Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ tsp dried basil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ lb bow tie pasta or homemade gnocchi
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets or fresh peas
- 2 cloves garlic
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (I used 1/8 c and 1/8 c chicken broth to soften the lemon taste)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Pour a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.
2.Fill a large pot half full of water then bring to a boil over high heat. While you wait for the water to boil, season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper and dried basil then set aside.
3.When the water reaches a rolling boil, add a large pinch of salt then cook pasta, or gnocchi, according to directions—until it is tender but still firm. Roughly 2 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add broccoli florets, or peas to the pot, allowing them to boil with the pasta for the remaining cook time and before draining everything in a colander. After draining, return the pasta and broccoli to the pot to keep it warm.
3.Place a skillet over medium heat then add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add chicken breasts then allow to cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through—about 8–10 minutes depending on thickness. When the chicken breasts are cooked through, transfer them to a plate and set aside to cool slightly.
4.Reduce the heat to medium-low then add garlic to the oil that remains in the skillet. Cook for about 1 minute to soften the garlic slightly. Remove the skillet from heat then add lemon zest and juice. Using a wooden scraper, scrape any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan then pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli.
5.Chop the slightly cooled chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks then add them to the pot—stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle the entire mixture with Parmesan cheese then stir gently once more to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve immediately. Enjoy!
This dish has a strong lemon flavor. If lemon’s not your thing and you would like to tone it down a notch, leave the zest in but replace the lemon juice with chicken broth. This will give it just a slight hint of lemon. I did 1/8 c lemon juice and 1/8 c chicken broth and found it to be just perfect.
- 2 cups of FLOUR
- 8 medium POTATOES
- 2 EGGS
- BOIL POTATOES TILL COOKED COMPLETELY.
- MASH THEM WITH A HAND POTATO MASHER (NOT AN ELECTRIC MIXER) OR PUT THEM THROUGH A RICER.
- PUT THE MASHED POTATOES ON A BOARD. ADD FLOUR, EGGS AND SALT.
- MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND CONTINUE TO MIX BY HAND UNTIL EVERYTHING IS INCORPORATED AND SMOOTH AND YOU ARE ABLE TO ROLL THE DOUGH INTO DOWEL STRIPS. ADD FLOUR UNTIL YOU REACH THAT CONSISTENCY .
- BREAK OFF PIECES AND ROLL INTO DOWEL STRIPS THAT ARE APPROXIMATELY AS WIDE AS YOUR THUMB.
- CUT APPROXIMATELY 1 INCH PIECES OFF THE STRIPS. (I didn’t get fancy with the cutting as they taste just as good shaped like soft pillows. You can press them, or shape them any way you’d like.)
- COOK IN SALTED BOILING WATER FOR APPROXIMATELY 10 MINUTES.
- DRAIN WELL.
Serve chicken and pea sauce over gnocchi and top with fresh parmesan cheese to taste.