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I often rack my brain for quick dinner ideas – the kind I can shop for, cook and clean up in a flash. Better yet, I love inspirational meals that allow me to use food I already have on hand. And this is how I resurrected this old but wonderful dish for dinner the other night. The last thing I wanted to do after a full day was to go grocery shopping. So I was happy to discover that I had two chicken breast halves, some tiny, tri-colored new potatoes from the farmers market, and salad fixings.
I also found some honey mustard dressing tucked away in the fridge – similar to that I posted a while back. And then the light went off in my brain: make the chicken breasts just a little different! I don’t often prepare boneless skinless chicken breast; to me they are a little dry and they taste like I something I’d be eating on a low fat diet. Nope, I prefer chicken thighs if you must know. It’s too easy to overcook chicken breast. But here they were, purchased on a 2-for-1 sale and just begging to be made.
This particular recipe was perfect. I pounded the breasts to an even thickness, dipped them in an egg wash, coated them with citrus, herbs and finely chopped pecans, then seared them on the stovetop. The tiny potatoes were coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 400 degrees in my toaster oven for 10 -15 minutes. The simple salad came together in a flash: arugula, tomato, and avocado. Once coated with the honey mustard dressing, this went in the dish first. The crunchy chicken breast was sliced on top and potatoes scattered alongside the entire dish.
Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad
Makes two large or four smaller servings
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp water
- ¾ cups finely chopped pecans
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- Zest of one lemon, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Pound the chicken breasts and cut them into four equal sized pieces.
Beat the egg with two tablespoons water.
Mix together pecans, dill, salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture and then dredge in pecan mixture.
Once coated, place the chicken pieces on a waxed paper-lined tray and allow the breasts to remain at room temperature for about 20 minutes to set the crust. After this time you can begin cooking them.
Over a medium high flame, heat a 12-inch deep saute pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken breasts and cook for three minutes. Carefully turn each breast piece over, lower the heat to medium and finish sauteeing the second side for about eight minutes. Remove to a carving board for five minutes then cut into ½ inch slices.
I usually prepare extra chicken breasts so I can have leftovers the next day to stir into risotto, for sandwiches, or pasta.
Makes ~1 cup (you will have a lot left over)
- ¼ c honey
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh shallots
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- Juice of ½ large lemon
- ½ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
Dressing and Salad Instructions
I put everything for the dressing together and blended it with my stick immersion blender.
For each eater, figure about 1 ½ cups of greens, 1 small tomato and ¼ avocado, cubed.
Use a few tablespoons of the dressing just to barely coat the salad and reserve the rest in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Put the dressed salad in the bottom of a shallow bowl or plate.
Top with slices of warm seared chicken breasts over the top, and scatter the warm new potatoes around too.