On the list of Things that Have Happened since I last showed my sorry mug around these parts (three weeks ago?):
1. We took an awesomely fun four day trip to Playa del Carmen with five of our best friends and drank lots of tropical drinks and and ate obscene amounts of huevos rancheros. Besides the fact that it did rain so hard the streets actually turned into rivers (!), we managed to laugh our tails off (and get a tan!) and had the best long weekend ever.
2. We welcomed two of our other best friends to the city, Scott and Jenny, who made an epic cross-country drive from New York City to call San Francisco their new digs (FISTPUMP!!). Jenny moved here to help open up the newest locations of the SoulCycle empire, and Scott was more than ready to take the plunge and become a West Coaster (there may or may not have been some enthusiastic rally cries from us, too). Sidenote: Do I even need to tell you what it feels like to transition from aforementioned weekend of salty-rimmed margaritas straight into back-to-back spin classes with the ruthless Jenny holding court as instructor?! #sweatis
3. We had a really fun couple of days hosting two of our friends from LA, and spent an evening catching up at our neighborhood izakaya while enthusing over and over that we now share a state – California, FTW! Lots of high-fives and raw oysters happened with these two.
4. Mumford and Sons at The Greek. Yes, I know they are so very overplayed on everysingle radio station, but man – they are seriously entertaning live. We had such a fun evening, with a crew of sixty (!) of us boarding a bus and taking a trip over to Berkeley for the show, and it was glorious – light breezes washed over the impressive outdoor amphitheater and it was warm enough to wear one of my favorite dresses.
5. I GOT A JOB! And a pretty awesome one, if I do say so myself, working at the cutest local jewelry boutique crafting gorgeous baubles (and selling some of my own, as well!). The two girls who own it are absolutely fantastic, and making pretty things while chatting away with two fun ladies is never a bad thing to call “work.”
In the blink of an eye, three big old weeks have passed; my sister-in-law is coming for a visit this weekend, and the forecast is for mid 60′s and sunshine….there’s no slowing down in sight, for the moment, but I really cannot complain. It’s been a pretty solid end to Spring around these parts.
I made this chicken the night we got back from Mexico, as I felt we needed something healthy and fresh but still substantial (and I think I was still on an avocado high…..who can really ever have too much avocado in their life?!).
I’ve been scooping up almond meal at the bulk bins at our corner market and using it in place of flour with great success – and crusting chicken and fish have been my favorites uses, in particular. The meal adds just a slight nutty flavor, and is so fine it does not need anything (like an egg) to help it stick to a protein. Just pound out your chicken (to help it cook evenly and quickly), season it really well, and then roll it on around in a bowl with a scoop of the meal (and some salt for good measure) and then shallow fry it in a bit of olive (or coconut) oil over medium heat until the chicken is golden and cooked through, and you’re in business.
A simple ‘salsa’ of halved baby heirlooms, chopped avocado, raw sweet corn kernels, and a handful of pea shoots is dressed with a tangy vinaigrette, and the crunchy/sweet/cool flavors round the dish out perfectly when set atop the savory and warm chicken.
It’s easy, it’s healthy — and after repenting for my sins in one of those fierce spin classes, it is just what el doctor ordered.
Almond Meal Crusted Chicken Breast with Summer Salsa
This is a super light Summery meal that is wonderful on it’s own, but if you have a big eater in the house (or a husband/boyfriend/dog that will give you the stink eye with simply “chicken and salsa” for supper) add a baked sweet potato or scoop of quinoa to the salsa for some extra heft.
You can assemble the salsa up to 8 hours ahead of time, but hold off on adding the basil and pea shoots in till about 30 minutes prior to serving so that the basil doesn’t discolor and the pea shoots don’t wilt too much. This salsa (which is more like a really chunky salad) is also great spooned into wraps or over a bed of greens for a light lunch.
You can find almond meal at well stocked grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill makes it, and Trader Joe’s carries it), or you can take a stab at making your own (though I’ve never tried). If you are gluten free, simply omit the regular flour and use all almond meal – just keep an eye on the chicken as it cooks, as in my experiences almond meal tends to brown a teensy bit more quickly than regular flour.
2 chicken breasts, pounded out to 1/2″ thickness
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or white)
1/4 cup almond meal
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 avocado, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 oz (a small handful) pea shoots, roughly chopped
4 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice (the juice of 1 lemon)
1 1/2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp honey (plus more to taste)
kosher salt, to taste
Begin by making your salsa. Combine the 1 Tbsp olive oil, the lemon juice, the whole grain mustard, and the honey in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. In a larger mixing bowl, stir the avocado, tomatoes, pea shoots, sundried tomatoes, and basil leaves together along with a hefty pinch of kosher salt. Drizzle the dressing atop the salsa, and stir to combine. Set the salsa aside at room temperature while you make the chicken.
Mix the almond meal and flour together in a shallow and wide dish, along with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Season the flattened breasts with salt, and then dredge them through the meal mixture, shaking off any excess. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan well. When the oil is very hot, carefully drop your chicken pieces in, and fry them until each side is very golden brown and the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side.
To serve, place a golden brown chicken breast on each plate, and spoon a very generous amount of salsa over the top. Enjoy immediately.