When hungry cooks scour the Internet for dinner recipes, two of the words most frequently keyed into search boxes are “chicken” and “healthy.” It’s not surprising, considering chicken is easy to work with, family-friendly and affordable, and most of us try to eat healthy most of the time. Today I’m giving you fast and fabulous chicken dinners, spruced up with fresh spring produce.
Shopping Tip: Be Flexible
When shopping, buy what looks freshest and is most reasonably priced. If snow peas look better than snap peas, choose those; if baby spinach looks fresher than watercress, use that in the chicken pocket; if spring onions (scallions) look droopy, use red onions instead.
Chinese Noodles With Snap Peas and Wasabi-Butter Sauce
I used just enough butter to create a rich sauce that’s not loaded with fat and calories.
Yield: 4 servings
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (chow mein stir-fry noodles)
2 cups fresh snap peas
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons wasabi paste, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cook noodles according to package directions, adding snap peas for the last minute of cooking; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, garlic and ginger; cook 5 minutes, until chicken is golden brown, stirring frequently. Add broth, butter, soy sauce and wasabi paste; bring to a simmer. Add noodles and snap peas; cook 1 minute to heat through. Remove from heat, add cilantro; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cheddar- and Watercress-Stuffed Garlic-Lemon Chicken
Stuff any fresh herb or leafy green into the chicken “pocket”– basil, chives, parsley, radicchio and endive all make great choices. In the picture, I served the chicken with cheese tortellini tossed with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and Parmesan.
Yield: 4 Servings
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each)
4 slices cheddar cheese (about 1 ounce each)
1 cup chopped fresh watercress
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, sliced crosswise into thin rounds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Use a paring knife to cut a 3-inch wide pocket in the thickest part of each chicken breast. Stuff watercress and cheddar into pocket; transfer chicken to a roasting pan. Brush oil over chicken; top with thyme; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange garlic on top of chicken; top with lemon slices. Bake 25-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Top with chives before serving.
Chicken, Tomato and Spring Onion Skewers With Couscous
When using wooden skewers, soak them in water before using to prevent scorching.
Yield: 4 Servings
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
20 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked couscous, regular or Israeli
Coat a stove top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray; preheat to medium-high.
Alternate chicken, tomatoes and scallions on metal or wooden skewers. Brush teriyaki sauce all over chicken and vegetables; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place skewers on hot pan; cook 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, turning frequently.
Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions, using the broth instead of water; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve skewers over couscous.
TELL US: What’s your favorite spring chicken dinner?
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.