Recipes lighten up but remain flavorful



The Best Light Recipe: A Best Recipe Classic

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

Cooking Light Chicken

Edited by Heather Averett

Oxmoor House / 2006 / $17.95

One in a series of "essential recipe" cookbooks from Cooking Light magazine, Chicken focuses on this staple of light cuisine. The editors do their best to make chicken interesting and versatile. Recipes draw from a diverse range of flavors, including Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic; Chicken, Date and Apricot Tagine; and Sesame-Chile Chicken With Gingered Watermelon Salsa.

Chicken in Wine Cream Sauce was pleasant enough for a weeknight repast, but we didn't agree with the claim that it was "just like something you'd find in a fancy restaurant." Light cream cheese and flour couldn't fool our taste buds into thinking they were indulging in a heavy-cream based sauce - but our waistlines were thankful for this dinner.

Chinese Chicken Salad With Hoisin Vinaigrette

Serves 6

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat

salt and ground black pepper

4 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil (divided use)

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

1/2 medium head napa cabbage, sliced thin crosswise (about 4 cups)

1/2 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced thin (about 1 cup)

1 cup bean sprouts

2 scallions, sliced thin

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup chow-mein noodles

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.

Add the chicken and cook until browned on the first side, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over, add 1/2 cup water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast is no longer pink and registers about 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few vent holes in the plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken while preparing the other ingredients. When the chicken is cold, shred it into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, shake the vinegar, remaining 3 teaspoons oil, hoisin, soy sauce and ginger together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; set aside.

Toss the shredded chicken, carrot, cabbage, red pepper, sprouts, scallions and cilantro in a large serving bowl. Shake the dressing to recombine, pour it over the chicken salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the chow-mein noodles before serving.

Per serving: 250 calories, 29 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 670 milligrams sodium

Recipe and analysis from "The Best Light Recipe"

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