Chickplantasagna is born
Aug 10th, 2016 by
Layered like lasagna, with eggplant, chicken, and zucchini, chick-plant-sagna was born out of necessity.

Layered like lasagna, with eggplant, chicken, and zucchini, chick-plant-asagna was born out of necessity.

We were hungry.

I had eggplant, zucchini, some leftover cheddar cheese and a new block of Parmesan Reggiano in the refrigerator. All day long I thought of those ingredients and asked myself what I could make for dinner. Around 4 p.m., the answer came to me.

I just needed chicken cutlets so I stopped at the supermarket on my way home and found some chicken tenders that looked better than the other cuts of chicken there. I brought them home and flattened them between two pieces of aluminum foil (I had nothing else). And that’s where our story (recipe) begins.


  • Chicken tenders (About 9 or 10, flattened by pounding them with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.)
  • Eggplant (1 dark, purple — firm, but not bruised — beauty).
  • Zuchinni (1)
  • Red pepper (1)
  • Cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup shredded)
  • Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, grated)
  • Fresh salsa (about 1 cup)
  • Tomato Paste, imported and from a tube (about 3 or 4 good squirts)
  • Red wine (about 1/3 cup), and a little water too.
  • Garlic (1 clove, torn open with your fingers)
  • Olive oil, regular, not extra-virgin (about 1/2 cup)
  • Lemon pepper

Here's what the dish looks like before putting it in the oven.

Here's what the dish looks like before putting it in the oven.

The Process:

Take the skin off the eggplant by peeling off strips of it using a vegetable peeler. The eggplant will look like it has stripes as some of the skin remains.

Cut thin (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick) slices of the eggplant. Brush olive oil on one side of each slice. Brush olive oil on a cookie sheet and put eggplant, dry side down. Cook in a 450 degree oven, turning over once, until both sides are brown.

Cut thin slices of zuchhini (about 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch thick). Put oil on both sides. Cut long strips of red pepper (about 1/2 inch thick) and put oil on both sides. Cook zuchhini and red pepper on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven until done.

Fry chicken cutlets in a little olive oil and the clove of garlic. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.

When chicken is done, heat frying pan again. Add the tomato paste and the wine and water and stir. Add salt and pepper. Let the wine and water evaporate a little bit. Stir scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and stir some more. Turn off heat.

Assemble the dish by putting a little olive oil on the bottom of a ceramic baking dish, along with a few tablespoons of the fresh salsa. Add half of the chicken cutlets. Pour over half of the tomato paste sauce. Add half of the cheeses. Top with half of the zuchhini, red peppers, and eggplant slices. And then repeat this with the remaining ingredients, ending with the rest of the cheese and some fresh salsa.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts.

The dish was delicious but it still needed a name. I posted a photo of it on Facebook and asked for suggestions. My friend Katie M. suggested Chickplantasagna. It was the perfect name for a perfect dish.

The End

Find more recipes in the Food Section.

Chicken in Milk: Strange, but True
Oct 15th, 2013 by
After browning the chicken I poured the grease into a baking dish and roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips and apples for a side dish.

After browning the chicken I poured the grease into a baking dish and roasted potatoes, carrots, parsnips and apples for a side dish.

This was a pretty simple recipe, albeit an odd one. You basically put a chicken in a pot, brown it on all sides, remove the grease and then add milk, lemon zest and a cinnamon stick. The result is a tender, juicy and sweet, chicken with some unexpected flavors. I’d definitely make it again.

The recipe came from Jamie Oliver. I followed that recipe but took the advice of another cook who recommended cooking it covered for the first hour. Get the recipe here.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Mexicali Chicken
Feb 4th, 2013 by

This is pseudo Mexican at its best.

You won’t find many recipes on RootsLiving that use processed food. But today we’re making an exception because this one is tasty, easy to make and has been pleasing crowds for decades.

I made it yesterday, Super Bowl Sunday, because if there’s one day of the year that calls out for processed food, this is it.


  • Boneless Chicken tenders (1-2 pounds)
  • Rice Pilaf (2 boxes, Near East)
  • Refried beans (1-2 cans)
  • Taco Seasoning (1 packet)
  • Monterey Jack Cheese (1 package of shredded)
  • Onions (2 small or medium, chopped)
  • Water (about 3/4 cup)
  • Salsa: (About 1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)

What I did:

Make the rice pilaf according to package directions.

Saute onion in olive oil and cook until translucent.

Add chicken and brown on both sides.

Sprinkle taco seasoning and salsa over chicken. Add water. Stir and cook until some of the water evaporates and chicken is done or just about done. Do not overcook.

Heat up the refried beans in a small pot.

Spread rice evenly in the bottom of a baking dish.

Spread a line of the refried beans down the middle.

Put cooked chicken on both sides of the refried bean line.

Sprinkle cheese all over.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Twice Basted Asian Barbecue Chicken
Apr 2nd, 2012 by
You bake this chicken but the sauce makes it taste like it was barbecued.

You bake this chicken but the sauce makes it taste like it was barbecued.

I invented this recipe probably close to 20 years ago. However, I made it last night for the first time in years.

It’s easy and very flavorful. The soy sauce makes it salty and the mixture of herbs makes it memorable. So I’m not sure why I forgot about it but I’m glad I remembered it.


  • Chicken breasts with the bone in (About 3, each cut in half)
  • Dijon mustard (About 1/4 cup)
  • Soy Sauce (About 1/2 cup)
  • Roasted sesame oil (1 teaspoon)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the “in-oil” kind for this recipe, but the dry ones are fine too) (About 1/4 cup)
  • Tabasco sauce (2-3 drops)
  • Fresh rosemary (1 tablespoon)
  • Tarragon (A pinch of dried, or a tablespoon of fresh)
  • Chopped scallions (about 1/4 cup — chopped onion is fine too)
  • Ginger (About a tablespoon of freshly grated or a pinch of dried)
  • Mushrooms (About 6 or 7 small ones cut up)

What I did:

Put chicken pieces in lightly oiled baking pan.

Mix up all of the ingredients, except for the mushrooms, and spread about 1/2 to 3/4 of it over the chicken pieces.

Bake in a 350 oven until done (about 60 minutes).

Blend mushroom pieces into the left over sauce. And then spread sauce over chicken pieces during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Serve with corn on the cob, bok choy, baked potatoes, rice, corn bread or whatever suits your fancy.

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Simplicity at its Lemon-Roasted Best
Jan 8th, 2011 by
Roasted potatoes go well with this dish.

Roasted potatoes go well with this dish.

My friend Jeannie gave me the most beautiful cookbook for Christmas. It’s part of Williams-Sonoma’s “Authentic Recipes of the World” series. And this one focusses on the city of Florence.

Northern italians cook simply with the freshest and best ingredients at hand. And that’s what you should do here.

So splurge: buy a good chicken, not one of those thawed out ones for 99-cents a pound. And use the best lemons you can find. There aren’t too many more ingredients to this dish but here’s the list:


  • Chicken (1 whole bird, about 3 1/2 pounds, preferably free-range, neck and giblets removed).
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (2 tbsp.)
  • Lemons (2 small)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (I always use Kosher salt; and always, always, pepper from a grinder.)

What I did:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.

Rub outside of chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle skin and insides with salt and pepper.

Stuff the cavity with two whole lemons.

Put the chicken in a lightly oiled shallow roasting pan and cook for about 1 1/4 hours, until golden brown. Baste occasionally.

Transfer chicken to a carving board and remove the lemons. Then tent some aluminum foil over it.

When the lemons are cool to the touch, cut them in half and squeeze the juice into the roasting pan. Throw the lemons away.

Add 3 tbspoons of water to the pan and place over high heat.

Cook for about two minutes, until reduced by 1/3.

Carve the chicken and arrange on a platter. The pour the lemon pan juices over it.

Makes about 4 servings.

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Nine Recipes That Will Make Your Cookout Memorable
May 21st, 2010 by
This braciole is easier to make and tastes even better than the traditional oven variety.

This braciole is easier to make and tastes even better than the traditional oven variety.

The unofficial kickoff of the summer season is only a week away (Memorial Day Weekend). So break out the grill and try one (or more) of these nine time-tested recipes.

Your guests won’t forget these simple, extra touches.

And here’s some music to grill by, written and performed by my friend Kenny Hogan: Watch the Video of “Backyard Barbecue“.

Main Courses

1.) The Perfect Burger: Think you know how to cook a hamburger? Think again.

2.) Grilled Braciole Fit for a Saint: A favorite at the St. Rocco Feast in Malden, Mass.

3.) Athens Grilled Chicken: A twist on the above braciole recipe.

4.) Italian Fried Chicken: A no-fry way to get that deep fried taste.

5.) Neely’s Barbecue Chicken: A Memphis delight!

6.) Grilled Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers: Batali’s dish with a hundred flavors.

Appetizers and/or Side Dishes

7.) Italian Corn on the Cob: This is not your grandmother’s corn.

8.) Grilled Artichokes with Mint and Jalapenos: Another favorite from Batali’s cookbook.

9.) Barbecued Shrimp: One of the recipes from my “Sex on the Kitchen Table” meal.

Find more recipes in the Food section

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