Alessi presents: 'In The Kitchen' with Caitlin Meade

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Caitlin Meade completes Alessi's In The Kitchen challenge. (WLS)

In our segment "In The Kitchen," we challenge cooks from all walks of life to create a dish using just the ingredients we give them.

Today's "In the Kitchen" cook is Caitlin Meade, a Chicago nutritionist and contestant from MasterChef Season Eight. Her website is all about healthy food that tastes good.

We set out Alessi products and some kitchen staples for Meade to work her magic.

Meade's Alessi ingredients were Sun Dried Tomatoes, Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Organic Farro.

Our Friends at Alessi sent Meade home with a gift basket of goodies. Visit their website for all the Alessi products. Alessi also sent our entire studio audience home with boxes of their new Italian Spuntini crackers, which can be found at Vali's Fresh Market and the following Jewel stores:
JEWEL #3013 1200 West Boughton Road - BOLINGBROOK, IL
JEWEL #3059 1755 W Ogden Ave - NAPERVILLE, IL
JEWEL #3223 7523 Lake Street - RIVER FOREST, IL
JEWEL #3376 370 N Desplaines St. - CHICAGO, IL
JEWEL #3442 4032 W Foster Ave - CHICAGO, IL
JEWEL #3503 145 South Eastwood Drive - WOODSTOCK, IL
JEWEL #3519 2775 Pfingsten Rd - GLENVIEW, IL
JEWEL #3331 2073 Prairie St - ST CHARLES, IL

Caitlin's recipes:

Chicken Pocket Pesto with an Alessi Inspired Farro Salad
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 50 min
Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

4 large boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
jar of Alessi Kale Pesto
cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup crumbled goat feta cheese
4 Alessi sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
Zest of one lemon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.
To stuff a chicken breast, you'll need to cut a pocket lengthwise into the breast to hold the filling. The pocket should be deep and wide enough to get the filling into, but not so big that the filling can fall out during cooking. Larger organic breasts make this step slightly easier.

Place the widest/thickest side of the breast closest to your knife. Use the tip of the knife to make a slit at the top of the breast. Push the knife straight down lengthwise the breast. Tip: if you shimmy the knife a little to the left and right down the breast, you can use your fingers (or a back of a wooden spoon) to widen the pocket to avoid cutting through the breast.

For the Filling:
In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix gently with a spoon. Then using a small teaspoon start filling each breast. Then using the back of a wooden spoon or your finger push filling down throughout the breast so it is evenly filled.

Note: you may need one or two toothpicks to seal any blemishes or openings. Once all the breasts are filled, season each breast lightly with salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat and pan-fry each breast until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes each side. Then place in a 375-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until breasts reach 160 degrees.

Alessi Inspired Farro Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup Alessi organic pearled farro

2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 large clove of minced garlic
8 oz. of shitake or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 large shallots or one small red onion, finely diced
2 red and 2 yellow Alessi roasted peppers, diced
4 Alessi sundried tomatoes, finely diced
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
cup fresh parsley
cup fresh basil
cup Alessi pine nuts, lightly toasted
cup crumbled goat feta, plus more for garnish
Zest and Juice of one lemon
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
First rinse farro with cold water using a fine mesh strainer. Place rinsed farro in a small saucepan and cover with two cups of stock and one clove of minced garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes until farro is fully cooked.

Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, then add shallots to the mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5-6 minutes. If mushrooms seem dry add a few tablespoons of chicken stock or water to help them get tender.

Season mushrooms and shallots with sea salt and pepper to taste. Next in a large mixing bowl add cooked farro, mushroom and shallot mixture, diced peppers, sun dried tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Mix gently with two spoons.

Last, add fresh herbs, cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Taste the salad to see if it needs any extra salt or black pepper and garnish with fresh herbs and a crumble of cheese for a pop of color.
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