chicken piccata

chicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

My husband calls this chicken ‘panna cotta’ by the way.

Chicken piccata happens to be a childhood favorite of mine; tender chicken simmered in white wine, lemons and capers. It requires little effort, and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand (i.e. the wine).

This dish is very adaptable too. I’ve made it several different ways, including a version with mushrooms and beef stock. I also use half the amount of butter found in traditional recipes giving it a light and fresh update.

And I serve it over this-

warm cracked wheat + spinach | The Clever Carrotwarm cracked wheat + spinach | The Clever Carrot

Couscous was my original go-to, but the combination of cracked wheat or bulgur and baby spinach is my new standby. To make it extra flavorful, I cook the grains in chicken stock. The residual heat wilts the greens making it the perfect bed for this juicy dish.

FYI- I’ve pretty much replaced couscous exclusively with this alternative grain. Although the texture is very similar, cracked wheat is packed with protein and fiber making it a healthier option.

I use an instant kind which is conveniently ready 10 minutes.

chicken piccata | The Clever Carrotchicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

If your ingredients are well organized, this meal will only take about 30 minutes to get on the table.

I somehow manage to destroy my kitchen whenever flour and chicken is involved, but the mess is well worth it. It has become an easy, weeknight staple in our house.

Besides, those of us who can’t get the name right should have to do the dishes anyways, don’t you think? ;)

Tips:

  • To save on time, you can purchase thinly sliced chicken cutlets instead of regular sized chicken breasts. Or to save a couple bucks, simply slice them yourself.
  • If you cannot find cracked wheat, try using couscous, rice or another grain of your choice.
  • To make this gluten free, substitute with gluten free flour where applicable.
chicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

chicken piccata
 
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I grew up eating chicken piccata. It's a meal time tradition I'm happy to continue. Watching my mom make this over the years, I've learned that it's all about organization. Here's my tip: while the chicken browns, use that time to prep the rest of your ingredients. Dice the shallots, open the wine (have a glass!) and make the garnish- this way, you're one step ahead.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
  • 1½ lbs. thinly sliced chicken cutlets
  • ½ c. flour + 1 teaspoon, divided
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • ¼ c. shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed with a garlic press
  • ¼ c. white wine
  • 1½ c. low- sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. brined capers, rinsed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
  • lemon slices
  • 3 tbsp. roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cracked wheat + spinach
  • 1½ c. instant bulgur wheat
  • 3 c. low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1x 14 oz. bag baby spinach
Kitchen notes:
You will need a large, 12- inch skillet. Alternatively, brown the chicken in batches or use two pans if you're comfortable multitasking.
Substitutions:
  • Couscous and Jasmine rice make excellent quick-cooking side dish options.
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of chicken stock to a boil. Add the bulgur wheat. Remove from the heat, and keep covered for about 20-25 minutes or until tender (drain any extra liquid if necessary). Add the olive oil and 2 handfuls of spinach. As you begin to stir, the residual heat will wilt the greens. Add the rest of the spinach and keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Add ½ c. flour to a shallow bowl; add the remaining 1 teaspoon to a separate bowl for the sauce.
  3. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge the cutlets in flour shaking off any excess as you go. Transfer to a plate.
  5. In a large 12-inch skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches or use two separate pans. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Note: it is important to monitor the heat so that the flour does't burn. This will impart a bitter flavor to the sauce.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, prep the rest of your ingredients. Dice the shallots, mince or crush the garlic, open the white wine, rinse your capers, chop your parsley, and slice the lemons for garnish. If you use this time wisely, the dish will come together quickly in the end.
  7. To make the pan sauce, reduce the heat to low. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Saute the shallots until soft, but not colored, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid by half.
  10. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. To thicken the sauce, add a splash of stock to the reserved teaspoon of flour and whisk well to dissolve any lumps. Add the flour mixture to the pan, whisking constantly, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  11. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  12. Add the juice of half a lemon and sprinkle with capers.
  13. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.
  14. Taste the dish; season with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.
  15. To serve, transfer the chicken to a serving platter and spoon the sauce over the top.
  16. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley.
  17. Serve with bulgur wheat and spinach on the side.

dinner tonight: mediterranean baked chicken

mediterranean baked chicken | theclevercarrot.com

This is my kind of food!

A simple tray-baked chicken dish packed with Mediterranean flavors.

I like to brown the chicken first and roast it alongside plump cherry tomatoes, red onions, and white beans. It comes out all sticky and caramelized.

I have 2 secrets- the first is to use marinated artichoke hearts and bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella balls). The garlicky/vinegary marinade adds incredible flavor to the dish without having to do a thing. The second trick is to toss in plently of fresh herbs right before serving. Fresh basil and parsley will make your kitchen smell out of this world!

mediterranean baked chicken | theclevercarrot.com

If you can marinate your chicken beforehand, this dish will taste even better. If you’re pressed for time, just skip it. It will still be very good.

Serve this with homemade bread and a nice green salad. Any leftovers are great mixed through with pasta.

*UPDATE-  Since posting this Mediterranean baked chicken, I’ve come up with a couple of variations that you might enjoy:

Tips:

  • Make sure to use a baking dish larger than 9x 13 inches. A large roasting pan is ideal. Overcrowding will cause the ingredients to steam rather than caramelize. Use 2 pans if necessary. 
dinner tonight: mediterranean baked chicken
 
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This dish is one of my most popular recipes on the blog. It's a one-pan meal that showcases both convenience and flavor. We love it in our house too.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1x 14 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, juice only
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Bake
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, left whole
  • reserved artichoke hearts
  • 1x 14 oz. can white beans, drained & rinsed
  • ¼ c. roughly chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1x 8 oz. tub marinated bocconcini (mini-mozzarella balls), drained
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
  • ¼ c. roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Kitchen Notes:
Save extra artichoke juice to drizzle over the finished dish for flavor.
You will need a roasting pan at least 13½ x 11 inches or larger. Otherwise the ingredients will steam instead of caramelize. Use 2 pans if necessary.
Substitutions:
Swap mozzarella for crumbled feta.
Use cannellini or Great Northern beans.
Instructions
  1. Marinade: drain the artichokes hearts reserving the juice. To a large bowl, add 2 tbsp. of artichoke juice, garlic, and oregano leaves.
  2. Cut the chicken into thirds, about 1½- inch strips. Add to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, maximum 3 hours.
  3. Bake: preheat your oven to 400 F.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sliced onions, and tomatoes to a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast on the center rack stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the tomatoes begin to burst, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. In a large skillet warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over moderate heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on both sides, working in batches and transfer to a plate. The chicken will be slightly undercooked.
  6. Pat the artichokes dry with a paper towel. Cut into quarters.
  7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven; the onions should be soft and sticky. If not, bake for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the chicken, artichoke hearts, beans, and olives to the pan (not the bocconcini- if you add the cheese too early it will melt all over the place). Roast for about 7-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  9. To serve, add the cheese and toss gently. The heat from the pan will soften the cheese.
  10. Top with parsley and basil leaves, and drizzle with extra artichoke juice if desired.

dinner tonight: tortellini with spinach and tomatoes

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

I haven’t had tortellini in ages

My mom used to make it for me when I was a little kid. I used to stack them on my fingers like rings. I loved it. But as I grew older, I forgot about tortellini and I’m not really sure why. Luckily, we’ve become reacquainted.

While shopping in my favorite store, I overheard a man going on and on about how much his wife loved tortellini. She would serve it with sauteed greens and tomatoes for a quick meal. It was her lifesaver during busy weeknights.

Sold!

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

Back home at the stove, I tried to re-create this dish. I started off by frying some diced bacon for a nice, smoky flavor. To that, I added grape tomatoes (no need to cut) and cooked them until blistered. Then I folded in some baby spinach. By the time my tortellini were done, my ‘sauce’ was complete. I tossed it all together with shaved parmesan cheese.

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

From start to finish, this meal took only 20 minutes! It was inexpensive too. For 4 people, the total cost was $12. That’s only $3/person! And I live in NY by the way, where everything is expensive. Tortellini, you’re my hero.

*Try swapping out cheese tortellini for pesto or mushroom. Add a dollop of goat cheese for a decadent touch!

20 minute tortellini with spinach and tomatoes
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. fresh cheese tortellini
  • 6 bacon slices, cut into ½" dice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 2 c. whole grape (or cherry) tomatoes
  • 1x 16 oz bag baby spinach, washed and dried
  • parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and add the tortellini. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan (preferably 12") warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. If you do not have a pan this size, use 2 separate ones to avoid overcrowding and steaming.
  3. Add the diced bacon and saute until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  4. Using a microplane, grate your garlic into the pan. Saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add the whole grape tomatoes (no need to cut). Cook until they are slightly blistered.
  6. Add the spinach. Gently toss with tongs until wilted, being careful not to break up the tomatoes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Drain the tortellini and toss together with the sauce. Add additional olive oil to coat. Top with the reserved bacon and shaved parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve immediately.