Editor's note: This is the final installment in Tracy Miller's chicken and the egg series. Visit www.vaildaily.com to read the previous columns.
Mediterranean flavors can transform an ordinary piece of chicken into a vacation for your taste buds and your health. Artichoke hearts, anchovies, olives, tomatoes, spinach and olive oil are included in this colorful, low fat dinner.
Purchasing artichokes in jars makes prep simple. Simply rinse them off to discard some of the fat and sodium that pre-packaged foods contain. Artichokes help keep your liver healthy; they contain fiber and an antioxidant called silymarin, which fights free radicals and helps regenerate cell growth. Silymarin is an extract from milk thistle used to fight liver disease and artichokes are part of the thistle family. Beware, when you grab a fresh one, they fight back with a prick.
Oregano is plentiful in Mediterranean cuisine and it is an herb that is packed with antioxidants. Parsley is a fresh tasting herb with anti-cancer properties and plenty of vitamins. When storing fresh parsley, trim the stems and place in a cup of water, in the refrigerator or on your table for a centerpiece.
Cooked spinach is delicious in your dishes, but it is essential that you squeeze out the excess water or your meal will be soupy and green. Using a potato ricer is the best method for getting the water out of spinach, but if you don't have a ricer, place the cooked spinach in a clean dish cloth and squeeze (or just use your hands - it may be hot, so be careful). Bone-building vitamin K is plentiful in spinach and eating this leafy green helps your body fight disease. Spinach is diverse and great in Eggs Florentine, which is creamy and topped with crunchy capers for a nice texture and burst of salt.
With the holidays approaching and many high fat meals in our future, this healthy dish is a great choice for weeknights or weekend mornings. Then, you can indulge a little more at that upcoming party!
Mediterranean chicken saute
4 chicken breasts, fat trimmed
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 cup onion, chopped
14 ounces diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
6 ounces artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
10 ounces spinach
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Lemon or Balsamic Vinegar
Trim all the fat from the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Mix salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder together and rub it on both sides of the chicken breasts. Heat a large saute pan to medium and drizzle olive oil in pan. Once the pan is hot, place chicken in pan (the chicken should sizzle when it hits the pan), cover and cook 7 minutes; turn heat to medium low. Flip chicken and cook 4 more minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan and cover with foil.
In the same pan, add onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until soft. Stir in anchovy paste until melted. Pour in tomatoes with the juice, broth, artichoke hearts and olives, cover and cook five minutes. Mix in spinach, raisins and chicken, cover and cook two minutes. Stir in parsley, remove from heat. Serve with lemon wedges and/or a drizzle of olive oil. Stuffed grape leave are a healthy side dish. For that recipe, visit colorfulcooking.com.
1/4 cup capers
20 oz. spinach
3/4 cup pancetta, cooked and cubed (optional)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tea garlic powder
1/4 tea salt
1/4 tea pepper
1/4 tea nutmeg
Wash spinach and drain.
Heat a large saute pan over med high heat, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and warm.
When warm, add spinach, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, until spinach is wilted and still bright green. If using frozen spinach, thaw and drain.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 5 Tablespoons vegetable oil over med high heat.
When hot, add capers, cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes, until they appear crispy. Drain capers on paper towel.
Rinse saute pan if using fresh spinach and melt 2 tablespoons butter over med-low heat.
When melted, add 2 tablespoons flour and stir with a whisk until a paste forms.
Heat milk in microwave over med heat, be sure not to let it boil.
Add warmed milk gradually to paste and stir until a thick, white sauce appears. Mix in garlic powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Break apart spinach and stir until well blended, add pancetta, stir until warmed. Turn off heat and let spinach mixture sit, covered until ready to use.
Coat a non stick pan with olive oil over medium heat. When warm add 4 eggs, cook 3 minutes, flip for one more minute. Cook another batch of eggs.
Place 1/4 of spinach mixture onto plate , top with 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon fried capers. Serve with crusty bread or English muffins.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and veggies to all her meals. She teaches culinary classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, hosts private cooking parties and shares recipes on TV8's Good Morning Vail. To contact her, email Tracy@colorfulcooking.com or visit Colorfulcooking.com.