Recipe of the Month: Chicken Breast with Baby Spinach, Rocket, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad
This is a simple recipe, and there is not much preparation required. A chicken breast flattened, pan fried or grilled on a BBQ, served with a simple salad and dressing. Perfect for summer days as a lunch or early dinner. Most of the Isle of Wight farm shops will have the chicken and IOW Tomatoes as well as local salad crops during the summer. The combination of young spinach leaves and rocket make a great tasting base to the salad, peppery and sharp. If you cannot find spinach or rocket, then use your favourite salad leaves.
Sumac is a lovely spice which has a tangy, lemony base note that add something special to a summer recipe like this one. From the genus of the cashew plant is has been used for centuries to add its distinctive flavour to many dishes. The Phoenicians used it before the Romans introduced lemons. Much used in Arabic and Mediterranean cooking, it is also used as a dye and for its medicinal qualities.
You can scale the recipe for the number of people you are serving. I like to serve this with small roasted potatoes, or, crushed and buttered new potatoes, or some pasta coated in olive oil and some parmesan cheese.
The chicken with just the salad, is a perfect summer lunch when served with a cold glass of Pecorino, or Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy it with your favourite cold drink!
Number of servings, 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp of Sumac to sprinkle on the top of the chicken
1 clove garlic, crushed
Half a red chili (no seeds) finely chopped or ½ tsp of chili flakes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
100g/3½oz mix of baby spinach & rocket leaves
175g/6oz strawberries, stalks removed and sliced in half or quarters depending on size
100g/4oz Isle of Wight baby tomatoes, the mixed colour’s look great with this recipe
Shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (or grated) for topping the chicken and salad
4 tbsp of Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Put the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of clingfilm, and using a rolling pin, gently bash the chicken to a thickness of 1 cm/½ inch. Rub each of the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with the Sumac, the salt and pepper.
Put the oven on at 180C, 160C Fan, Gas Mark 4, just in case you need to cook the chicken a bit more, and to keep it warm for a few minutes if you are cooking a larger number of chicken breasts.
Now make your dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the finely grated garlic, chili, balsamic vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for around 4 minutes each side, flipping once, until browned and cooked through. You could cook the chicken on a BBQ, cook for 4-5 minutes on either side.
To check if the chicken is cooked, slice open and check no pink flesh remains. If there is, continue to cook the chicken in the oven until you are happy it is cooked through. You could use a food thermometer to check it is over 74C or above and is white in the middle. When the chicken is cooked, you can serve it whole or transfer the chicken to a chopping board, and slice into around 5 pieces on a 45-degree angle.
Toss the spinach, rocket, tomatoes, and strawberries with around 2 tablespoons of dressing so everything is lightly coated. Pile up on serving plates and top with the cooked sliced chicken. Drizzle the remainder of the dressing over the sliced chicken and top each dish with the shavings of cheese.