2 chicken breasts (free-range preferable)
2 orange/red/yellow bell peppers
1/3 C sesame oil/olive oil
2 medium carrots
5-6 good-sized radishes
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp brown sugar
dash of salt
cayenne pepper (optional)
apple cider vinegar
fresh-grated parmesan or romano (optional)
What was that you said? Chicken requires some kind of BBQ sauce or deep-frying to be exciting? Well I don’t mean to insult your poultry intelligence (I would never, for instance, refer to it as “paltry”), but I think you should at least try my latest (really easy) concoction before limiting yourself to such ideas. This dish is a summery, low-carb, brightly colored amalgamation of flavor and nutrients. One could even say an explosion of flavor and nutrients—just not in front of a TSA agent (unless you live with said agent and it’s at home).
Part of the inspiration for this dish has been my recently discovered (fine, it happened like a year ago, but in the grand scheme of things) love for vegetables. Since I’d rarely used them before outside of making the occasional lackluster salad, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. But I did have two factors already on my side: everything roasted is delicious, and sauteing or steaming food is easy.
So I did a lot of that. I’m sure at some point there will be a billet-doux on this site dedicated to roasted kale chips and how crispy and fun and flavorful and generally perfect they are. But (being a scientist by day) I realized that even a little bit of cooking (though steaming seems to be OK) degrades some of the important vitamins and minerals found in ye olde vegetables. That has obviously not stopped me from cooking them as before, because they’re still REALLY delicious, and even if they’re not as nutritious minus a few vitamins, they certainly aren’t bad for you. Even so, I decided yesterday (at about 6pm, because I am such a great planner) that I wanted to try using fresh vegetables as a main component of an otherwise-cooked meal. It was not only tasty, but presumably instrumental in helping my cells keep dividing and my brain keep functioning!
Step one: Preheat oven to 400F. Drizzle olive or sesame oil into bottom of a glass pan (about 8 by 12 worked well for me). Prepare chicken by trimming any excess fat and slicing (I use a paring knife for both of these exercises because I’m too lazy to sharpen any other cutting implements in my kitchen) length-wise for about 1/2-inch thick strips, and lay these onto your olive oil layer. If you’re using two different colored peppers (recommended for aesthetic purposes and fun!), WASH each one and cut half of each into ~1-inch squares. Roasted peppers… mmmmmmm. Throw these on top of the chicken and drizzle more oil over everything. Add about 1/4C water and sprinkle a little salt and chili powder on top if you like, then throw in the oven. This is done in 25-30 min (check for doneness by cutting a piece of chicken and looking for pinkness. Don’t mess around with undercooked chicken.)
Step two: Prep veggies for your salsa/chutney/slaw. Dice the unused portions of your peppers into as small of pieces as you can manage without compromising your fingers and throw into a small plastic bowl. Grate (yes, you need a grater, I’m sorry) your WASHED carrots and radishes and throw those bad boys into the mix. Chop or tear your WASHED parsley into smallish bits and throw that in. Mix around a bit with a fork.
Step three: Make your veggie mix a little saucy with some fun ingredients! I didn’t put amounts for these on purpose—partly because I didn’t measure them when I did it, and partly because I did it to taste. Don’t use more than 1/2 tsp salt, because it really doesn’t need it. I would estimate 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp chili powder, a pinch of cayenne, and two tsp vinegar. Mix it up really good, and by the time you’ve cleaned up your mess and done your dishes, the chicken should be done!
Step four: Assemble and enjoy! Spoon (or fork) two to three chicken strips and some peppers onto a plate and cover with a heaping scoop of veggie mixture. If you want a tiny cheesy component, grate or thinly slice some fresh parm or romano cheese on top of the chicken before adding veggies. N.B., this dish is intended to be a meal unto itself—if you are also serving a (totally unnecessary) side dish of some sort, one big or two small strips of chicken will suffice. But I’d still add a ton of veggies, because anything less than a lot seems like a waste of visual feasting!
Part of the reason this dish is so great, I think, is because even though you have to use several extra kitchen items (cutting board, grater, knife), there is plenty of time while the chicken is cooking to wash your dishes and clean up your (if you’re anything like me, generally) substantial mess. Also, this makes for fabulous leftovers—just keep the vegetables separate from the chicken in your tupperware and heat the chicken first. Or, if you’re REALLY daring, cut the chicken up and toss it with everything else and eat it on toast for a chicken-salad sandwich without all that yucky mayonnaise stuff. So there you have it. And you thought chicken was bland.