Mediterranean chicken gets a bath of robust, garlicky sauce

April 22, 1992|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Combining the warm and sunny flavors of the Mediterranean, this robust chicken dish yields piquant tastes with minimal time expenditure. (Estimated time is 30 minutes.) The added bonus is very low cholesterol. The olive oil and Calamata olives, which lend so much flavor, contain the monosaturated fats that are said to help lower cholesterol.

My cooking is not for the faint of heart, so if you like a milder dish, you can reduce the garlic and capers. However, the flavors do merge during the speedy cooking and produce a more mellow dish than you might expect when you first look at the list of ingredients.

Flattening the chicken breast speeds the cooking time and tTC ensures that you get a nice covering of sauce over every bite. It is a common mistake to overcook breasts to a point of being tough and chewy. There is a happy medium of doneness that gives a moist breast while still following safety standards.

Serve this dish with a colorful and healthy spinach pasta. Crunchy amaretti or biscotti cookies make a happy ending.

Items you should have in your pantry include: olive oil, fresh garlic, capers, fresh lemons, dried oregano and freshly ground pepper.

Your speedy 10-item-or-less shopping list includes:

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1 bunch leeks

8 medium plum tomatoes

12 Calamata olives

1-pound spinach pasta

amaretti or biscotti

Pollo Mediterranean

Serves four.

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, pounded slightly to flatten

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch leeks (about 3 medium size)

6 cloves garlic, pressed

8 medium plum tomatoes, diced

12 Calamata olives, pitted

2 tablespoons capers

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)

2 teaspoons oregano leaf

freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, put water on to boil for pasta.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add chicken breasts and cook quickly to brown on each side (about 6 minutes total). Remove and hold on a warm plate. Meanwhile, scrape drippings in pan to loosen and while still hot, add leeks and then garlic. Lower heat to medium high and saute for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook until tomatoes begin to soften (about 5 minutes).

Add the spinach pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Cook only until just tender. Now transfer the chicken breasts into the saute pan and cover with the sauce. Cook chicken and sauce over medium heat for an additional 6-8 minutes or until chicken is firm, but tender when pressed.

To serve, chicken breastes may be placed on top or alongside the pasta. Make sure the chicken gets lots of the chunky sauce and juices.

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