Last weekend was a busy one. I spent a big chunk of the weekend at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival where I volunteered on Saturday morning to assist in three seminars. The sessions included a Tuscan Wine Tasting featuring the wines of Brancaia Wines and Winery, a Spirits and Cheese Pairing, and a talk about farming by Tyler Brown, executive chef of the Capital Grille in Nashville.
Being my first trip to the festival, I didn’t know what to expect at the food tasting on Sunday afternoon. I knew I would sample some fantastic food, but I didn’t expect the utter culinary orgy that it turned out to be!
When you walk through the gate, you get a real wine glass with a lanyard so you can eat while your wine glass is hanging around your neck. Brilliant! Some of the best restaurants from all over the south set up stations where they offer festival goers small 3 or 4-bite samples of their best dishes. And if there’s something that you really like, you’re free to take as many samples as you want.
The first row of tents comprised the barbecue area and my tail started wagging the minute I spotted a tent serving pulled pork and mac and cheese…truly some of the best I’ve ever had. After several samples of pork and brisket, we moved on to the seafood area where we sampled a fantastic sea scallops dish and the Big Green Egg tent where they were smoking some amazing fowl.
Two other huge tents featured a variety of spirits, wines, and food, including doughnuts with caramel and bacon and fresh peach ice cream. By the time we finished meandering through the last tent, I was engorged and ready for a nap!
Needless to say, there wasn’t much time for blogging over the weekend. Trying to cook and photograph during the week after a workday isn’t ideal, but I was able to squeak out this easy grilled chicken recipe. If you have all the ingredients for the pesto, it’s a cinch to make in a food processor. Serve this chicken with some steamed vegetables and grilled tomatoes and you’ve got a healthy and delicious summer meal.
9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 clove garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning chicken
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional for seasoning chicken
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 boneless chicken breasts
6 ounces goat cheese
1. Add artichoke hearts, parsley, basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. With the food processor still running, slowly add olive oil. Scrape down the sides as needed and process until smooth. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and add Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
2. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board. Holding a sharp knife parallel to the cutting board, cut a pocket into the side of each breast, being careful to not cut through to the other side.
3. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of pesto into each pocket and top the pesto with 1 ounce of goat cheese. Secure opening with a toothpick.
4. Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 400 degrees). Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
5. Transfer chicken to grates and grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.