Do you ever see a recipe on someone else’s blog and think to yourself I know I’ll like that. It happens to me all of the time. When I do, I copy and paste the recipe along with the link over to a file I’ve named “New recipes to try.” Mediterranean Style Chicken Breasts is one of those recipes. I saw it on one of my favorite blogs, Stacey’s Snacks, and left the comment, “Stacey, what a beautiful, easy dinner party dish. This is carb friendly and I’ve always got a dinner guest or two who are watching their carbs for one reason or another.”
One of the reasons I liked Stacey’s recipe is that it’s elegant, easy and perfect for entertaining. She made a bruschetta recipe of tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and fresh herbs and used it as a topping for the chicken breasts which were served on a platter of greens lightly drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Stacey’s recipe also happens to be very similar to a recipe of ours that we love and serve all of the time – Chicken with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta over Orzo with Slivered Almonds that I posted last October. There are some differences in the two recipes, but the main one is that Stacey serves her chicken over arugula instead of orzo as I did, making hers very carb friendly.
Good tomatoes are essential in this recipe. Every year we grow a few heirloom tomatoes in our herb garden. This year we decided to plant only one heirloom – a Cherokee Purple. This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about the Cherokee Purple tomato. It was published in a newly released anthology from the North Carolina Writer’s Network West titled Echoes Across the Blue Ridge – Stories, Essays and Poems by writers living in and inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Much of the old culture of the Appalacian mountains is passing or has already pased, but this anthology brings it all alive beautifully through the gifted voices of the poets and writers who live in these mountains. The anthology is available in bookstores throughout western North Carolina or on line at www.ncwriters.org.
There’s a lot of history about the Cherokee Indians and the Native American Trail of Tears where we live. About thirty miles east, on the road to Asheville, is the Nantahala National Forest. This route, once part of the Indian Trail of Tears, is a serpentine, narrow two-lane road that winds it way alongside the beautiful Nantahala River/ The river begins high in the mountains and then flows down through the Nantahala Gorge, which is narrow and steep. The word Nantahala comes from the Cherokee Indians and means “land of the noonday sun.” In some areas along the gorge, the sun reaches the ground only when it’s directly overhead. You may remember my post last year with more pictures.
Here’s a photo of an assortment of heirlooms from our garden last year. The Cherokee tomato is the purple one.
This year our Cherokee Purple crop was dismal and disappointing, yielding only a couple of puny tomatoes not worth slicing, much less photographing. It was probably because it was very dry and we most likely didn’t pamper them as much as we should have. However, as the tomatoes started to grow, we noticed that one looked different from the rest. As it turns out, it was a Roma plum tomato, mislabeled as a Cherokee Purple. The Roma tomato crop flourished, as you can see by this picture, and they’re what I used in Stacey’s Mediterranean Style Chicken recipe.
Give both recipes a try. I know you’ll love them and best of all, we get “wows” every time we serve them.
Stacey’s Mediterranean Style Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Stacey’s Snacks – serves 4
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened slightly
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour
Baby spinach or arugula, washed and spun dry
Tomato Bruschetta mixture:
5 plum tomatoes, preferably homegrown, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Chopped kalamata olives
Crumbled feta cheese
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Heat about 3 to 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil in a 12” non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Alternately, you can grill the chicken outside or on a stove top grill pan, but omit the flour.
While the chicken is cooking, gently mix together the tomato mixture in a bowl and set aside. (Do not make too far in advance.) Serve each chicken breast on a bed of greens that have been tossed with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Top chicken with the tomato bruschetta mixture followed by a sprinkling of kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, chopped fresh Italian parsley, and fresh basil leaves. Serve at once.