Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mediterranean-inspired sauteed chicken with olives and vegetables

[ETA: Sorry, poor planning on my Irish-themed recipe today.  Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Celebrate by trying something new! ;-) ]

Blame it on my new Cooking Light cookbook which is devoted entirely to chicken; you're going to be seeing a lot of chicken recipes coming from me as the weather gets warmer.  This one, however, isn't from the actual cookbook —it was merely inspired by the gorgeous photographs and tantalizing recipes between the covers.  In fact, true confession, I hadn't even planned this recipe out when I made it.

I'd spent the morning perusing the pages of this awesome new cookbook, marveling at how easy some of the recipes were.  Inspired, I went grocery shopping in the afternoon to acquire ingredients so I could try a few of the recipes over the weekend.  I got so caught up in shopping for all the glorious ingredients that I lost all track of time.  I arrived home with about fifteen minutes to throw together something for dinner that wasn't pizza and wasn't just leftovers-over-salad or leftovers-with-salad.

Let me tell you a cooking secret... it's always easier to improvise when you have great ingredients on hand!  It's not, however, easier to photograph the ingredients for the recipe when you're kind of flying by the seat of your pants.  Translation: Sorry, no pictures of the ingredients. Or the main course on a plate; we were racing the clock to eat before our son fell asleep on the sofa.  (He's been ill, but that's another story for a different blog.)

Here's what you'll need for this super easy recipe that will wow your family or your guests. Truly, my husband loved it so much he wanted to go back for thirds! That almost never happens. (This recipe is naturally gluten- and dairy-free.)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts —OR the equivalent in leftover roast chicken from your mother's generous meal the night before.  Guess which one I used.
  • 1 jar or can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 10-12 spears of new/baby asparagus, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into medium wedges
  • 1 medium jar (approx. 1 cup) kalamata olives (bonus if they're pitted!)
  • 1 medium lemon, slice one half into thin slices
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • 3 cups cooked rice

In a large skillet, lightly brown the chicken breasts in a glug of olive oil then set them aside.  Add another short glug to the pan and sautee the onions until they're nearly translucent. Add asparagus, artichokes and olives; lightly sautee them.  Add the lemon slices and pour in the wine and chicken broth.  Stir the mixture in the pan.

Add chicken to the mixture, season generously with oregano, then cover and cook until chicken breasts are fully cooked.  Approximately 8 minutes (more if they are large breasts).  If you are like me and are using up already-cooked leftovers, the cooking time will be significantly less.

You can either add the rice into the pan (which is I what I did because I wanted more of a casserole-style meal) or serve the chicken and vegetables over a bed of rice.  In either case, just prior to serving, give a generous squeeze of juice from the remaining half-lemon over the plate for a yummy, Mediterranean-inspired dish.

[Of course, after I've made a meal for the first time, I spend some time considering what ingredients I would change or add, what flavors or textures, colors or seasonings I might change up to either make the dish better or simply to put a new twist on it.  With this particular dish, I might change the kalamata olives for spanish olives with pimientos just for some interesting splashes of color.  I used yellow onions but might try red the next time.]


  1. I love to cook this way--and you are right. It's all about what's on hand. I always stock artichoke hearts and kalamata olives (my favorite!) and I always have at least one package of boneless/skinless breasts in the freezer. I know you don't do cheese, but this would be yummy with some feta cheese sprinkled over the top.

  2. I actually remember saying to my husband that this would even better with feta or fresh romano cheese on top. Great minds think alike, eh?

    I forgot to mention...the leftovers would also be super tucked into a pita pocket the next day!

  3. Ooh, this looks yummy. And I have everything on hand . . . this will likely be tonight's dinner. Perhaps over brown rice? And I'm thinking I might toss in some sun-dried tomatoes (I'm a huge fan of those).

  4. Yummmmmm! Mine would be over brown rice. I have diabetes and it doesn't mess up my sugars too much. I would do it exactly as you did.