Last week was my turn to host game night which meant I got to toss around menu ideas (one of my favorite hobbies, incidentally). I knew I’d be making an Italian dessert so after contemplating several ideas, I decided to make the entire meal Italiano.
Two of my favorite dishes at Romano’s Macaroni Grill are their chicken Toscana soup and warm spinach salad. The soup is a creamy chicken soup with gnocchi, tomatoes, and spinach which compliments the salad – fresh spinach wilted and tossed with prosciutto, roasted garlic, fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil then topped with toasted goat cheese – perfectly!
Lucky for me, I was able to find some “copycat” recipes. Thanks, Google and RecipeZaar!
Quick & Light Chicken Toscana Soup Inspired by Macaroni Grill
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 90 ounces low-sodium low-fat chicken broth
- 2 large tomatoes
- 4 cups cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from Fresh Market)
- 16 ounces 1% low-fat milk (I used whole milk)
- 16 ounces mini gnocchi
- 10 ounces baby spinach (fresh, half bag)
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil (if you only have dried, rub approx. 3/4 tsp. between palms and add when you add the milk)
- Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent (5-10 minutes). Add the chicken broth and bring to boil. Add chicken and tomatoes; bring back to a good simmer for 5 minutes. Add gnocchi; cook for 1 or 2 minutes if mini size, a little longer if larger.
- Add milk and heat until steaming. Stir in spinach just long enough to wilt. Ladel into bowls and top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil if you have it.
I wilted a ton of fresh spinach in my wok then dressed it in a roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette (recipe below). I toasted several slices of goat cheese (instructions to follow), crisped the prosciutto, and voila!
Roasted Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette Inspired by Macaroni Grill
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 ounce roasted garlic
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
Place vinegar, honey, salt and roasted garlic in a food processor. Puree until the garlic is chopped very fine. With the food processor still running, add olive oil and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Toast Goat Cheese:
- 12 oz. goat cheese
- 1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 c. walnuts, ground fine
Slice rounds of the goat cheese with a sharp knife that is placed under hot running water after each slice is made. Pat the rounds so that they are firm, with rounded edges, and about 1/2 inch in thickness. Combine the bread crumbs and ground walnuts. Brush the goat cheese rounds with a bit of the walnut or vegetable oil and coat with the crumb mixture. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, or until the crust is brown. (Instructions by Cooks.com)
I tried baking the goat cheese in the oven, but found that browning it on the stovetop in a small non-stick skillet worked much better. Click here for the chicken Toscana soup recipe and here for the roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette recipe. Buon Appetito! Come back soon for the Italian dessert – 100% made from scratch. You won’t want to miss it!