A Macaroni Grill Favorite

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - June 04, 2008
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Romano’s Macaroni Grill has more than 220 locations around the world, including the busiest site anywhere in Ala Moana Center.

Now, Desert Island Restaurants franchisee Randy Schoch has announced he is taking the award-winning family-style Italian restaurant concept to the Big Island of Hawaii, with an opening expected by Thanksgiving at the new Queens’ MarketPlace at Waikoloa.

Randy already has a Ruth’s Chris Steak House at The Shops at Mauna Lani, and with the growing population and rising visitor count - including families who love to be there - he says the Waikoloa Resort was the next natural step in his development of the Romano’s Macaroni Grill concept here in the Pacific.

As construction gets under way, the original location continues to attract repeat customers who love the casual atmosphere and Tuscan-inspired cuisine. There is a fun children’s menu, and Chef Michael Longworth mans an exhibition-style kitchen.


So all the best to Randy, landlord Tom Rohr and everyone involved in branching out Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

And if you can’t make it in for lunch or dinner, they have graciously given me a recipe for MidWeek readers to try at home.

Orzo, which means barley in Italian, is rice-shaped pasta made of hard wheat semolina.

It is wonderful in soups, salads and as an accompaniment to main dishes, instead of traditional pasta; it has an “al dente” texture.

ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL CHICKEN PORTOBELLO (home version)

* 4 8-ounce chicken breasts
* 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
* 2 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 cup beef stock
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
* 2 whole Portobello mushrooms, sliced
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
* 4 slices provolone cheese
* 4 cups cooked orzo
* 2 cups fresh spinach
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* salt
and pepper, to taste
* 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese


Much like our chefs, you must remember to enjoy the process of cooking this Macaroni Grill Italian favorite.

To begin, cook orzo according to package instructions and hold for later.

The cadence of an Italian opera will help you keep the beat as you pound the chicken to even out the thickness (approximately 1/2-inch thick).

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter over medium heat in a pre-heated skillet. Add chicken and brown for approximately three minutes on each side.

Add mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to pan and cook for another two minutes. Add beef stock to pan, cover and let simmer for five-10 minutes.

In a separate pan, sauté spinach with olive oil, salt and pepper over medium heat until spinach just begins to wilt. Add orzo and stir until all ingredients are well-incorporated.

Remove lid from pan with chicken and top each chicken breast with slice of provolone. Place spinach orzo on a platter, top with chicken breast and drizzle with sauce.

Serve with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Makes four servings Shout “Bravissimo!” as you sit down to enjoy with longtime friends or family.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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