This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerTastes #CollectiveBias
There’s just nothing in this world like a warm summer evening in the South. Though the days are usually long and hot, in the evening as the sun slowly sets is the most coveted time of the day. This is when my family and I can begin to enjoy the outdoors, heat up the grill and come together for a home cooked meal. With our garden overflowing with delicious vegetables to eat, the labor of gardening turns into a labor of love when I’m able to transform those ingredients and produce into something fresh, unique and simply delicious!
And speaking of simply delicious, if you’ve ever visited the beautiful South before, (and especially if you’re fortunate enough to live here), you know how serious we can be about certain things, especially when it comes to how we take our tea. Rule of thumb: the sweeter, the better! I’ve always heard this running joke that sweet tea runs through our veins thicker than blood, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that was actually true! I personally enjoy almost every kind of tea – especially during the hot summer months, and in my opinion, Gold Peak steals the show when it comes to bringing the flavors that I love. (Have you tried their green tea? It’s FAB!)
So I got to thinking about unique ways I could incorporate my love for tea into more than just the glass sitting on my table. If there were some sort of way that I could infuse that delicious tea flavor into the food I prepared, by golly I’d be in hog heaven!
And come to find out, there totally is a way to infuse those flavors into your meal! One of our favorite things to cook on the grill is chicken, so why not brine a few chicken breasts in our beloved sweet tea?! The process of brining meat is nearly effortless, so I thought I’d give it a whirl and serve it for supper one night this week. To serve as a side with our Sweet Tea Brined Chicken, I knew I wanted to put together something that would use up some fresh ingredients from my garden. I thought a garden fresh pasta would be perfect! So off to Walmart I went to pick up some essentials and two VERY important ingredients to really make this dish come together.
My first stop was to pick out the perfect pasta for the side dish. While cold pasta salads tend to be a summertime menu staple for many people, I’m much more into warm pasta dishes. My all-time favorite pasta dish is spaghetti carbonara, so I thought I’d create my own twist on the classic and add some fresh elements (like veggies) into the recipe to give it a more summer-y feel. Have you seen this noodle option from Barilla before? I always keep a stock of this in my pantry. Any time I can incorporate extra vegetables into my meal is a total win! The veggies are hidden inside and are virtually undetectable. They’re perfect if you have a picky eater in your household who isn’t a veggie fan. Talk about awesome!
Then I swung a hard right onto the beverage aisle to pick up a few bottles of Gold Peak Tea to keep my fridge (and family) happy. Remember earlier when I said that southerners are serious about their tea? Well, much to my dismay, my Walmart was COMPLETELY sold out of it! I guess people really love their Gold Peak as much as I do! So I found myself at another Walmart where they had some in stock and I loaded up my buggy with a variety of flavors before the masses could snatch it all up again. 🙂
Once I got home, I knew I needed to start the brine right away. In a large mixing bowl, I combined fresh chicken breasts, the seasonings (onion powder, sage, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, brown sugar, and garlic) and 2 cups of Gold Peak Sweet Tea. I covered the bowl tightly and allowed the mixture to sit for a full 24 hours so that the flavors would really meld together. (See below for exact measurements and full recipe).
After the brining process was complete, my husband fired up the grill when he got home from work and started grilling away. We love to use the grill during the summer months. It’s such a nice treat! I especially love when my chicken gets a little char on it. Mmm mmm!
Grilling Hack: Use tin foil on the grill to prevent the meat from sticking and to avoid excessive charring. Less clean up is always a plus!
Next up on the prep list was to start the pasta. I decided to go with a Garden Pesto Spaghetti Carbonara as the perfect compliment to my Sweet Tea Chicken. Before the chicken started cooking, I went out to my garden and snipped a bowl full of fresh basil from my garden. I absolutely love basil. It smells SO good! I love to plant basil plants every year so that I can make fresh pesto. I’ll be using fresh pesto made with walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil in this recipe, but you can absolutely use pre-made pesto to save on time!
I also picked a plump, juicy tomato from the garden to pair with the pasta. I sliced the tomato and placed them on a foil-lined baking sheet. After preheating the oven to 400 F, I spooned a small amount of pesto onto each tomato, followed by a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese. I popped them in the oven and let them cook for 15 minutes.
While the tomatoes were baking to perfection, I started cooking the Barilla pasta according to the package instructions. I’m still just tickled pink that there’s hidden veggies in the pasta, y’all!
As the noodles were boiling, I started to gather my ingredients to make the carbonara. First, I cooked several slices of bacon until they were slightly firm – not too crisp, and chopped them into bacon bits. I scrambled 2 eggs into a bowl and gathered my pesto, Parmesan cheese, garlic, garlic salt, olive oil and butter.
Once the noodles were cooked, I quickly drained all of the water and put them back into the pot. I immediately added the oil, butter and garlic and gave it a good stir. I then added in the eggs and stirred quickly to coat the hot noodles and allow them to finish cooking. I then added the pesto, Parmesan cheese, bacon bits and garlic salt.
Once the tomatoes were done baking, I placed a slice on a serving of pasta (after marveling at their beauty, of course) and served it alongside the chicken that my husband just took off the grill.
Goodness gracious, y’all. Talk about a perfect summer time meal! Kicking back by the grill with family, serving fresh garden ingredients in a delicious pasta, AND enjoying refreshing Gold Peak tea in two different ways? This must be what Heaven is like! 😉
I just know you’ll enjoy this dish as much as my family did! Here’s a printable copy of the recipe for you to have! There’s lots of room to get creative with the ingredients, so feel free to spruce it up however you’d like!
Sweet Tea Brined Chicken and Garden Pesto Spaghetti Carbonara
- For Sweet Tea Brined Chicken:
- 3-4 Skinless Chicken Breasts I used boneless
- 2 cups Gold Peak Sweet Tea
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 Tbs onion powder
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 Tbs sage - I find it in the spices aisle
- 1 Tbs black pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- For Garden Pesto Spaghetti Carbonara:
- 1 lb Barilla Pasta (I used Hidden Veggie Spaghetti
- 2 eggs uncooked and scrambled in a bowl
- 4 Tbs Butter + 4 Tbs Olive Oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese - divided
- 1 tsp Garlic Salt
- 5-6 sliced of bacon - cooked and diced
- 1/2 cup basil pesto + 1/2 cup additional for optional baked tomato topping)
- For Chicken:
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or plastic zipper bag and place chicken breasts inside - being sure to cover or seal completely. Stir the contents and allow chicken to brine in mixture for 12-24 hours (24 hours is best)
- Remove chicken from brine
- Heat grill to medium heat and cook on both sides until chicken is completely cooked throughout. (All grill cook times vary. I used a small grill and cooked for 25 minutes, flipping once. This recipe can be adjusted to cook on stove top or in oven)
- For Pasta:
- Cook pasta according to instructions
- (Optional) While pasta is cooking, preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with foil
- Slice a garden fresh tomato and place on foil. Spoon a little pesto on each slice and top with a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese. Cook for 15 minutes (this will sit on top of your pasta. It's optional, but recommended!)
- Once pasta has been cooked and drained, immediately add in butter, oil and minced garlic and stir generously for a few seconds
- Next, quickly add in eggs and stir (the eggs will cook themselves amongst the hot pasta
- Add in garlic salt, bacon, 1/2 cup pesto and Parmesan cheese and stir
- Top with baked tomato and serve immediately with Sweet Tea Chicken
Make your Summer Sizzle with Barilla and Gold Peak:
If you liked this recipe and would love to see more ideas and delicious recipes to make your summer menu sizzle, visit this website and take a look around. You’re going to want to try ALL of the recipes – trust me!
Snag these Sweet Summer Savings:
If you want to spend your summer days sippin’ on Gold Peak Sweet Tea, Green Tea, or any of their other amazing flavors, go ahead and snag this sweet coupon that’ll save you $1 off when you buy any two (2) 64 fl oz bottles of Gold Peak Tea!
Are you an Ibotta user? If so, you can earn $1 back when you purchase 3 Barilla Blue Box products and Barilla Pesto Sauce! (I’m crazy in love with Ibotta – I’ve been earning rebates on groceries for 2 years!)
What other garden fresh favorites are you enjoying this summer? Do you have a favorite pasta dish that is your go-to? Do you crave the taste of southern sweetness only found in good ol’ sweet tea like I do? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!