For the last several months, I’ve been working for a new company, and, because the company is based in Boston, I’m working from home. I was originally nervous about the prospect of working from home full-time, but I’m loving it. One of the best perks is having access to the kitchen all day. I can run downstairs and grab a snack, or take a quick break to start dinner, or, and this is my favorite, actually make my lunch everyday. I’ll admit, when I was going into an office, I was never on top of lunch. I usually had to run out. But now, I’m making lunches, and one of my favorites, that is also quick and delicious, is an Italian grilled chicken salad.
In my effort to eat healthier, I’m trying to have more vegetables, and I find a hearty salad is a great way to do this. For this salad, I grill a chicken breast I’ve pounded thin, which cooks quick and is a great addition, making the salad a meal.
To start, prepare the chicken. Just take 1 chicken breast and remove any chunks of fat. Place the cleaned chicken breast on a cutting board that’s covered with a piece of wax paper big enough to be folded to cover the chicken. The wax paper helps you not make a huge mess when you’re pounding, but also makes clean up a breeze. Take a sharp knife and cut partially through some of the thick parts of the breast to make it as flat as possible. Then cover the top with the other side of the wax paper. Take a meat cleaver, or something you can pound with, like a saucepan. Use the smooth side, and just pound that chicken breast until it’s all the same size. You’ll end up with a nice cutlet. You could always buy the cutlets at the store and skip this step, but I usually don’t have them at home, and with the wax paper, it’s a pretty easy step.
Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken over medium heat. I use a non-stick grill pan to do this. I have the Cuisinart 12″ Non-Stick Round Grill Pan, but you don’t need it. If you don’t have one, you can use a saute pan. I like to use the non-stick so I don’t have to use any fat, but you could use a regular stainless pan, just spray it with some non-stick cooking spray. After just a few minutes, you’ll see the top portion of the chicken start to cook around the edges. Turn the cutlet at this point to cook the other side. If the chicken resists at all when you try to turn it, give it more time. It will release when it’s cooked. The other side should take about another minute or two, and then, your chicken is done. Because you pounded that chicken so thin, it really does cook quick.
While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the salad. I make a simple vinaigrette in a bowl big enough to hold the dressing. I just use about 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and whisk those two together until combined. Then add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Whisk until everything is emulsified, and taste to see how it is. You can always add a little more of this or that to adjust the flavors. For the lettuce, I use hearts of romaine, just chopped and added to the bowl. I also use 1 roasted red pepper. You could always roast these yourself, but you can also get them jarred at the grocery store, and the jarred ones are good. If you’re going for speed here, definitely get the jarred. Add those to the bowl with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and toss everything together. I don’t add salt, but I do add pepper. I find the dressing has enough salt for me, but you can add it if you’d like.To serve, I put the chicken on a plate and top with the salad. You can sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top if you prefer, and dig in!