Monday, July 11, 2011

Grilled chicken and eggplant salad with arugula pesto

I’m feeling lucky and relaxed, back from another wonderful vacation with my husband spent in the car driving around the Midwest.  Also, even bigger cause to celebrate, I’m a second year resident!  Intern year is over and I feel so proud and accomplished of all that I learned and did in one year (tons of deliveries, dozens of C-sections, gynecologic surgeries, hundreds of emergency and clinic patients.)  More than anything, I’m freaking relieved by the promotion.  The second year schedule is a bit more forgiving and well balanced and there is a scant amount of clout that comes with the job. 

Even though I had an awesome year, it is great to know that it will be somebody else running around labor and delivery trying to get it all done--although I think I’m hard wired to sprint when I hear “doctor for decelerations/delivery/exam” on the overhead speaker.  As second year, we learn how to be consultants to midwives and are in charge of the women’s ER.  Plus, there will be lots of scalpel time as we are primary surgeon to all C-sections at night.  It is amazing how much I’ve seen after just one year, and I’m excited to keep learning and gaining more responsibility as I work my way up.

Perhaps now with a new year and a new job, July is a much better month than January to make New Year’s resolutions.  While in January I was merely trying to survive; to get out of bed, go to work and do the best job I could, I’m blessed to have a bit of time this month to make some real changes in my habits.  I’m feeling bloated after eating a hot fudge sundae every day of my vacation. This is worsened by the fact that even though I joined the gym almost a year ago, I haven’t been at all since February.  (My husband is surely chuckling)

Thankfully, summer is a great time to eat a lighter diet.  I found beautiful small eggplants at the grocery store and they grilled up just great. We have a gas grill as part of our apartment, and I know, I know it’s not charcoal but I’m getting the hang of the grill and hopefully someday can promote myself to hot coals. Even though pesto isn’t necessarily diet food, it at least is a step in the right direction.  I love making pesto with arugula as it has a wonderful peppery bite and is cheaper than basil.  This “salad” can be served hot or cold and would be great over bread, mixed in with lettuce or pasta or can be eaten alone.

Grilled chicken and eggplant salad with arugula pesto

Arugula pesto

Handful loose basil
1 cup arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
Clove garlic
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup walnuts
1 tbsp high quality balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb eggplant
1 lb roma tomatoes, seeded and divided in eight pieces
½ red onion thinly diced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil and salt for seasoning

To make the pesto, place basil, arugula, garlic, cheese, walnuts, salt and pepper into food processor.  Run until all components are well combined.  Scrape down sides and pulse in balsamic vinegar.  With machine running, slowly add oil until all ingredients well combined.  Set aside

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  If using small eggplants such as thai or Indian as I did, cut in half and salt and brush with olive oil.  If using a large eggplant, cut into 4-5 horizontal slices and salt and brush with oil each side.  With the chicken, salt and oil each breast.  Grill eggplant for about 6-7 minutes on each side until juices run from the eggplant and they are soft to touch.  Grill chicken for about 7 minutes on each side until juices run clear and the chicken has an internal temperature of about 150F.

Dice eggplant into about 1 inch cubes, doing the same for the chicken.  In a large bowl, add eggplant, chicken, tomato and onion.  Add pesto by the tablespoon until each piece of salad well coated.  You will have leftover pesto which can be put aside for a separate use. 

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