by Mary June Thompson, Contributing Food Writer. As much as I love going to the Farmers’ Markets for fresh food, that isn’t always an option since they are only held on certain days of the week. To fill in the gaps, one of the places I like to visit is a little gem that isn’t widely known outside of North Knoxville: Three Rivers Market. Located in a new building on North Central Street at the corner of Baxter Avenue, Three Rivers carries a nice selection of local in-season produce, eggs, dairy products, meat, baked goods, garden plants, and sometimes even bouquets of flowers. In addition to locally produced products, they also have all the basics, a vast assortment of bulk-bin food items, toiletries, dry goods, and even natural pet food. They also offer a hot bar and deli, which offers a quick bite for folks on the go.
The recipe I have created for this week features several locally produced items that I purchased at Three Rivers Market (but are also widely available in various brands at many places for those not in reasonable proximity to this particular store), including the chicken, buttermilk, cream, garlic, and zucchini. The items I used to create this dish include West Wind Farms chicken breasts, Cruze Farm buttermilk, fresh local zucchini, Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream, imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, imported extra-virgin olive oil from The Tree and Vine, and sweet Italian basil from my own garden. This particular dish is quite a bit richer than most of the dishes I prepare, but the superior quality of the ingredients—and short ingredient list that allows all the flavors to shine— make it a worthwhile indulgence. Additionally, it’s a great alternative for anyone who has eliminated pasta from their diet, as it is low-carb and gluten-free. I am confident that if you take the time to prepare this dish, it will become one of your favorites, as it is most definitely now one of mine!
Grilled Chicken and Zucchini “Pasta”
1 pound chicken breast tenders, or breasts cut into strips
¾ cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium to large zucchini
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (optional)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 large basil leaves, julienned (cut into thin ribbons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine chicken and buttermilk in a zip-top plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Light grill and allow to reach 450-500°F. In the meantime, remove both ends from zucchini and using a mandolin (preferably) or a very sharp knife, slice zucchini long ways into 1/8-inch thick ribbons. Slice each ribbon into 4-5 pieces, around a ¼-inch in diameter. (See photograph for example).
When grill is hot, remove chicken from buttermilk and pat dry using paper towels. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill 3-5 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and chicken is cooked through. Tent with aluminum foil and keep warm.
Add remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini ribbons and toss with oil. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and just cooked through. Add garlic and toss; cook 2 minutes. Add wine, if using, and cook 2 more minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil; cook 2-3 minutes or until cream has thickened. Add cheese and basil, stirring until cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among 2 pasta bowls and top with grilled chicken. (Enjoy with a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc, if using, and notice how drinking the same wine that the dish is prepared with enhances the flavor of both.) Serves 2.
—Mary June Thompson, CelebrateKnoxville.com.