They say you first “eat with your eyes,” but with today’s recipe I hope you will also taste with your heart.
Before your fork ever touches your food, your senses are anticipating how enjoyable the dish before you will be. You’ll taste with your senses and find delicious flavors. When you taste with your heart, you will feel the love behind the food. Let me explain.
I created the following recipe for a cooking contest sponsored by Association of Food Bloggers in conjunction with SERV International, an organization that provides life saving meals to people in impoverished countries. The challenge was to invent a unique recipe using the dehydrated food product they supplied.
When the package arrived I was curious. How does a snack sized portion of this curious seed/grain mix feed eight people? I found that when cooked with water it magically multiplies, plumping many times, providing a large nourishing meal. It contains dehydrated potatoes, rice, fortified textured vegetable protein, caramel color, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin B1, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B12, carrots, and onions.
One 8-ounce serving meets the daily nutritional needs of one person.
The crazy part is, for only 5 cents, you can nourish a person for an entire day! For just $5, you can feed up to 100 people for a day OR one person for 100 days! I find that simply amazing. Click here to learn more.
SERV International puts smiles on kids faces and nutritious food in their tummies in the Dominican Republic and in Kenya.
Of course it isn’t just the kids that are smiling!
I added chicken and fresh vegetables to the dehydrated food mix to create a complete – and more fun and exciting – meal. I stacked the dish to create a highly visual presentation. I wanted it to command attention, to represent SERV International’s commitment and engagement in global projects that make life changes real and personal.
If you don’t have food ring molds you have two options: buy one, or make your own.
D.I.Y. Food Ring Molds
I used a can opener to remove the top and bottom off 14-ounce can of garbanzo beans. I hot-glued an empty spice jar to the top I cut off the can. Now I have a ring mold with plunger. You will need 6 cans for this recipe.
Colossal Chicken & Veggie Stack
2 ounces SERV International Dry Mix, finely ground*
4 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn meal – I use Bob’s Red Meal Medium Grind Corn Meal
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 boneless & skinless organic chicken breasts
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 small red bell pepper
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups frozen green peas
3 cups organic micro greens
Coarsely grind 2 ounces of SERV Int’l Dry Mix in a food processor or immersion blender with chopper attachment.
Bring water to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Pour cornmeal & SERV dry mix slowly into water, stirring with a wire whisk. Continue stirring as mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If polenta becomes quite thick, thin it with 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more water as necessary, to keep polenta soft enough to stir.
Remove pan from heat and add cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Line a baking sheet or shallow dish, approximately 8 ½” x 11” with parchment paper. Carefully pour polenta into pan. Using a spatula, spread polenta to a thickness of 3/4 inch. Cool to room temperature to allow polenta to solidify. Note: You can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
* To make this without the SERV dry mix, use just 4 cups of water and no mix.
Pour the vinegar into a small non-reactive sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low reduce the vinegar for about 30-40 minutes or until the vinegar has become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You should end up with just more than 1/2 a cup.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into an airtight container and store at either room temperature or in the refrigerator. When you are ready to plate, place the container into a container of warm water and it will soften.
Note: Keep a watchful eye when reducing the balsamic so it doesn’t over reduce and burn.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and sauté the chicken breasts until just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and keep warm.
Add the chopped onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the skillet. Dice the chicken breasts and combine with the onion mixture.
Add the mushrooms to the same skillet, along with the red pepper, and sauté until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and pepper to a plate, pour the white wine into the skillet and reduce by half. Then add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Return the mushroom mixture to the skillet. Stir to coat with the glaze. Set aside.
Cook the peas according to the package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray 6 cylinders with vegetable spray.
- With the tin can or 3” stack cylinders, cut the polenta into round. Slide a spatula under the polenta round and place them on a sheet pan.
- Spoon enough peas to create a single layer of peas. Press down gently but firmly.
- Spoon a couple of tablespoons chicken on top of peas and gently press the chicken down.
- Top chicken with several tablespoons of mushroom mixture and press down again.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
Slide a spatula under each stack and transfer to a serving plate. Put three circles of balsamic glaze on your plate.
Take a toothpick and drag it to make a swirl.
Unmold stack and garnish with micro-greens.
Dig in and enjoy!
• Buy a rotisserie chicken and dice. Sauté onions and garlic and mix with chicken.
• Buy a quality Balsamic Glaze instead of making your own.
Feeding people is a beautiful facet of our mandate to love one another.
… and then, she paused 4 thought.
Note: I am honored to say I won the recipe competition.