A Healthy Taste Of The Italian Mediterranean

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - October 28, 2009
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Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s new Grilled Chicken Spiedini

Dining at Romano’s Macaroni Grill at Ala Moana Center and at Queens Market Place on the Big Island just got healthier with the introduction of its new Mediterranean menu.

Inspired by the vibrant way of life and cooking that has been around for centuries along the Italian Mediterranean coast, the menu features the finest ingredients such as imported artisan pasta, vineripened tomatoes, colorful vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemons, select seafood, grilled meats and fresh, fragrant Italian herbs. This style of cooking is featured in both new and in improved recipes, and will have lower calories and saturated fat. Improved recipes include Scallops and Spinach Salad, and Seafood Linguine. New recipes such as Grilled Chicken Spiedini, Pollo Caprese and Lobster Spaghetti also have been added to the menu. Look for the new menu to be completed by summer 2010.

Randy Schoch, Romano’s Hawaii franchisee and chief executive of Desert Island Restaurants, says, “The freshness of our new recipes is exciting and the new menu has been enthusiastically received by our guests.”


Chef Michael Longworth has been with Romano’s Macaroni Grill since its opening four years ago. Mike has been in Hawaii since 1991 and worked at Schoch’s Black Orchid at Restaurant Row, Nick’s Fishmarket and Sam Choy’s.

A Boston native, if he’s not in the kitchen, you can find Chef Mike cheering on the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. He has graciously provided me with a home version of one of Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s new recipes for MidWeek readers to try.

Courtesy Romano’s Macaroni Grill

* 4 sprigs rosemary

* 12 ounces boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-ounce pieces

* zest of 1/2 lemon

For Lemon Olive Oil Sauce:

* 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

* 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

* 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

* 1 ounce minced onion

For Roasted Vegetables:

* 1 yellow bell pepper

* 1 red bell pepper

* 1 medium eggplant

* 1 zucchini

* 1 red onion

* 1 ounce chopped garlic

* 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

* 1 tablespoon chopped oregano

* 2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon black pepper

For Skewers:

Strip the leaves of the rosemary, leaving 1 inch at the end. Stick the stem through the chicken, putting three pieces on each stick.

For Vegetables:

Cut the vegetables into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Place on sheet pan and roast in oven (375 degrees) for about 20 minutes.

For The Sauce:

Mix all ingredients well. When vegetables are almost done, put chicken on the grill. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side. Place cooked chicken over vegetables and drizzle sauce over all. Top with lemon zest.


(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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