Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tapenade; I lost the will to cook

I'd lost the will to cook.

Not to eat, mind you…. That never goes away.

Nor to drink…. So much wine; so little time.

I'd simply lost the will to cook.

It would appear that I have gotten into a rut.

I'm no longer content merely to put a decent meal on the table.

It has to be creative.  Colorful.  A feast for the eyes as well as the palate…. Plus it needs to be fun.

Nothing was inspiring me. 

I was overwhelmed by the garden and underwhelmed by ideas.

Until today, that is.

Today, that Fairy Godmother, otherwise known as, came to the rescue with, not one but two, inspiring books.

It's not a secret that I like cook books.  I have several hundred of them.

But what I really like are the big, 'coffee table' books that tell me about the country and region as well as the cuisine.

I started with an old Time-Life series:  Foods of the World.  Then I graduated to 'The Beautiful' series (as in France: the Beautiful).  Then I found the Culinaria series. 

I carried the first one back from the U.S. with me: Culinaria, Spain.  I about broke my back hauling that 10lb tome through airport after airport.  Couldn't put it in my suitcase…. way to heavy.

In the ensuing years I bought several more, but through Amazon, thus having them delivered; all hardcovers.  The sheer weight of them in one place is awe-inspiring.

I haven't bought any for awhile – you know, the old 'I already have more than any sane person should have' bit.

But I needed to get out of my slump.

I compromised with myself. 

I bought the paperback versions…. Which only weighs 4lbs.  Yep, I weighed it.

If you look at my cook books you see a recurring theme: France, Italy, Spain in every series, with the occasional Portugal, Germany or Hungary thrown in for flavor…. And a few Chinese and Japanese.

Today I got Culinaria, Greece – which is absolutely gorgeous and I'm so excited I can hardly sit still.

And….. And…..

I got the 'The food of Morocco, A food lover's journey'; also a paperback, also weighing in at 4lbs and absolutely gorgeous.

And my introduction to an entire new series.

I do believe mon mari is going to have to build me another book shelf…. It's light work; he can start tomorrow.

Best of all – I'm inspired.  I can't wait to start cooking – again!

In the meantime, I did another pasta for Presto Pasta Nights. 

I'm hosting this week and you have until midnight tonight (your time – whereever that is) to get your entries in.  Rules are simple: link to me; link to Presto Pasta Nights;
send the info to: thyme2.kate (at) gmail (dot) com with a copy to: 
ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com).  Check the Presto Pasta Nights site
for complete details.

Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tapenade

Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tapenade

1 1/4 cup pasta, bite-size, penne, rigatoni
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
Marinade for chicken
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp oregano
The rest
6oz (180gr) green beans
8oz (250gr) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (3oz, 90gr) cherry tomatoes
3 tbs basil leaves
1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) shredded cheese
3 – 4 tbs tapenade, black or green to taste
1 tbs olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Note cooking time and add beans to water during last 4 minutes.
For chicken: Mix vinegar, Worcestershire, oil and oregano. Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for 10 – 15 minutes. Cook on barbecue grill or in a nonstick skillet, 12 – 15 minutes, turning once.
For the rest: Top and tail beans. Cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Add to boiling pasta water during last 4 minutes of pasta cooking time.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Tear basil leaves if large. Put tomatoes, chickpeas, tapenade and olive oil in large bowl, mix gently.
To finish: When pasta / beans are done, drain and rinse with cool water. Add to bowl and toss gently with tongs to combine. When chicken is done, remove, slice and add to pasta. Sprinkle with basil leaves, cheese and serve.

week of August 20 we have Grilled Salmon with Tomato Tarragon Sauce, Barley and Chard Gratin, Caprese Risotto, Grilled Burgers, Chili Pork Chops, Pasta with Avocado and Greek Olives…..  

Thyme for Cooking
is a Weekly Menu Planning Service focusing on healthy, seasonal foods.

now and try it free for a week!  The menu, complete recipes
with meal preparation instructions,
and shopping list is available each Thursday.  (Reverse
seasons available for Australia, and others in the Southern Hemisphere).

Don't need 7
complete dinners?  Try the Main Course Menu Mailer option: 6 new main
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13 thoughts on “Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tapenade; I lost the will to cook”

  1. That looks fabulous!!
    And I know what you mean about losing the will to cook. We go through that too, finding ourselves eating the same old slop (that is still the best slop on the block).
    What I’ve started to do is put back issues of SAVEUR magazine into the bathroom – someone is bound to be inspired.
    We just got some beautiful fresh Romano beans today. I think I need to point T in the direction of your pasta with grilled chicken and tapenade. It should work with Romano beans instead of chickpeas, shouldn’t it?

  2. Katie – that looks sooo good! I would love to see your cook book collection – several hundred? I’m drooling…I so understand your desire for more cook books, me too! Whenever I get in a slump, I will pull out one of my books for inspiration…works every time!

  3. Bellini Valli, you should research and write a cookbook about cooking for one, with reduced recipes! I can also recommend the Sunset magazine cookbook, “Cooking for Two, or just for you.” It’s old now but if you can find a copy, it’s got some super recipes.
    Katie, I have ‘way too many cookbooks, too, but I’m a piker compared to you. Oh, and BTW, you didn’t carry a “tomb” through the airport, I’m sure. It was a tome.

  4. You are too funny. I only have a handful of cookbooks, but my library is slowly growing. It’s almost impossible for me to justify needing cookbooks when there are so many wonderful recipes on blogs like yours. I seem to “print out” more than I “look up,” though I do seem to accumulating a lot of books on the science of food – why things go together, why we cook certain foods the way we do. Fascinating to me. I really love your blog and always look forward to your posts – Gary

  5. hahaa love that you call The Fairy Godmother…
    Oh and I am NOT going to go look what the “Culinaria” series is all about! I am not… am I? *sigh*

  6. Katie, I too have the old Time Life Series! It still transports me around the world. The Culinaria series sounds pretty spectacular too. And by the way, can a person have too many cookbooks? I think not!
    Love this particular dish of yours. I can’t wait to try it and I can’t wait to see what your Presto Pasta Night roundup looks like. My pasta pot and giant pasta bowl are ready and waiting.

  7. I’m with you. But, going online and reading all the creative dishes cooked up is so inspiring, I usually get out of my slumps. Cookbooks and magazines help too though. Now these two dishes are on my to try list.

  8. Val, when I cook for one I just cut everything down – 1/2 cup pasta or 1/4 cup rice…. takes getting used to.
    Elizabeth, of course… Use them all. One can never have too many legumes! I love Romano beans.
    Ina, I look at them all regularly… just needed something new.
    Zoomie, between my bad typing and crazy spell check…. yes, a tomb would have been way to heavy. Fixed it – thanks!
    TV food and drink, I love those, too! McGee….among others
    Astrid, of course you are….;-))
    Ruth, I love that old series… not as fancy as the newer ones, but great recipes.
    Claudia, oh yes, the magazines…. love those, too.
    Nirmala, My 3 favorites – that’s easy… the three in front of me – the newest ones, always LOL

  9. Those books sound fabulous! I have a couple in the Beautiful series. My mom (one of your fans, too) has the Time-Life series. I can look up things in Google Books and then call her with the page number. 🙂 But I don’t have the Culinaria series. I’ll have to look into that one.
    One of my favorite series was written in the 50s by a travel/food writer. I’ve mislaid them somewhere, but basically he was a war correspondent who’d lived all over France and Italy and noticed how the traditional foods of each town varied, even if the town was only a mile from another one. It was completely based on what grew or lived within walking distance. Fascinating books, with stories about how entire towns would turn out to pick snails from leaves when it would rain, or how a particular tomato had been cultivated. I may have lent these books to someone. These books come back into print once in awhile, when some boutique press decides to do a reprint.

  10. Tracy, the Culinaria is gorgeous, but the last one I bought was paperback, not hardcover and I wouldn’t recommend it. The typeface is much too small to casually browse whilst doing something else, which is what I like to do. The Food Lover’s Journey on the other hand, also paperback, is beautiful AND easy to browse….

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