Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken Piccata, Splendido...

I always love getting home to my own kitchen. This is one 
 of my all time favorite dishes to make. It's delicious, healthy and quick, so it's perfect for weeknight dinners. It's also flavorful and colorful, making it a great choice for entertaining. Chill some Pinot Grigio, sauté some spinach, add a deceivingly luscious Almond Cake {recipes below} and you'll have a perfect meal for any occasion.

My recipe was adapted from one I found in a cookbook given to me years ago, Robin Leach's Healthy Lifestyles Cookbooks. Not a book I would normally gravitate to, but it was autographed, 

so of course I had to browse through it {sorry for the watermark over Robin's Leach's signature, not sure how to adjust that}.

The book is filled with photos of celebs posing in opulent settings back in the mid 90's, pretty hilarious to look at those photos today. The recipe that really appealed to me was from Donald and Marla Maples Trump, didn't they look so happy together?

I've been making versions of Marla's Lemon Caper Chicken recipe for over a decade now.
I follow her procedure, but I've bumped up the flavors a little and I've added some vegetables for both flavor and color. I call it Chicken Piccata, though most Chicken Piccata recipes call for dredging the chicken breasts in flour. This version is a little healthier, and I don't miss the flour at all. I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think.

Chicken Piccata, Splendido
{serves 4}

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons drained capers
½ cup quartered, water packed artichoke hearts
½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
Cayenne pepper
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Pound gently and evenly with the smooth side of a mallet until they are ½ inch thick. Pounding the breasts make them nicely tender and receptive to spices. Sprinkle the breasts with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

Melt the butter with the oil in a nonreactive large skillet or sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the shallots, garlic and tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the wine, capers, artichoke hearts and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add breasts to the pan and sauté until just cooked through, a total of about 5 to 7 minutes. Use tongs to turn over the breasts midway through cooking, 

Transfer the chicken to a warm platter, leaving any vegetables attached. Pour the lemon juice into the remaining sauce and stir it over medium heat for a minute. Spoon some of the chunky sauce over each of the breasts. Sprinkle platter with chopped parsley. Any remaining sauce can be placed in a sauce boat for the table.

While I was prepping for this dinner the other night, my daughter came in with a craving to bake a cake. We searched for something Italian and simple, THIS almond cake recipe by Giada De Laurentiis was the perfect choice.

Giada tops this cake with a pretty flurry of powdered sugar. My daughter whipped up this delectable frosting, some combination of powdered sugar, and maybe milk {?} .... I'll try to get the details out of her... because the cake with the frosting was positively irresistible.

But honestly, the cake would be good without any topping, the key ingredients are almond paste and cornmeal. It has a wonderful texture, mouth feel and the flavor is luxurious. You could serve it topped with a dollop whipped cream, or sugared creme fraiche, and fresh berries.

I usually serve Chicken Picatta with sautéed spinach {click on the name to see how I like to serve spinach with sautéed scallops, or see the procedure below}.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound baby spinach leaves, washed and lightly patted with paper towels
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
the juice of 1 lemon


Into a large sauté pan, over medium high heat, pour the olive oil.   Allow to heat for a couple of minutes.  Then add the spinach by handfuls.  Let the bottom level of leaves wilt a little before stirring up the pile of spinach.  Slowly toss the spinach until it is about 3/4 of the way wilted (about 3 minutes).  Sprinkle the spinach with the garlic and lemon juice and stir it up.  Cover with a lid or foil.  Turn off the heat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes and up to 15.  If it gets too cool, you can turn up the heat and gently toss the leaves until just warm.

Chicken Piccata, with pasta or rice, Sauteed Spinach, Almond Cake...  and a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio....  what a  splendid and simple Italian dinner for any evening.


Splendid Sass said...

All of this looks amazing! Can't wait to try these recipes. Spinach is my favorite too. The picatta is a must try for me.
Happy Thursday.

designchic said...

Your images are mouth wish I had a piece of the cake with my morning coffee!!

Splendid Market said...

DC ~ the cake is amazing with coffee in the morning. I'm not usually one for sweets, but I just couldn't stop nibbling on that cake. It's really amazing. I think I will need to make one today.

Barbara@HausDesign said...

I'm inspired Emily! It will be on my short list of recipes to try out in our new kitchen. :) Hope you are well!

pretty pink tulips said...

I treasure my autographed books, cookbooks included!! How fun and special they are.

This chicken piccata looks delish, but I'm going straight for that dessert!!

xoxo Elizabeth


I'm coming over to your house for dinner! I love chicken picatta but never had it with artichokes and tomatoes--it sounds so delicious! Hope you are having a fantastic week, xxBarbara