Aaaaaand the Holidays are over. Did everyone survive? Did we all make it out ok? Let’s do a quick headcount, shall we? 1, 2, 3… I don’t see Rodger – can somebody check on him please… 4, 5, 6, 7…. Yes, it looks like we’re all here. Whew!
So I took a couple weeks off to celebrate and spread good cheer, and let’s be honest, EAT! But now I’m back and ready to fill your inboxes with delicious, wholesome meals intended to wean you off of those calorie-laden dishes that we’ve all grown accustomed to these past few months. The first of which is this amazing, Southern Italian-inspired Chicken Abruzzi (pronounced aˈbɾut tsi) which boasts as much flavor as it lacks in calories and fat. Loaded with hearty vegetables, creamy cannellini beans, and zesty lemon chicken, this savory meal is just the trick to jumpstart your post-holiday diet.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 lemons, divided
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced
- ½ bunch curly leaf kale (about 3 cups), stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 1 (14-oz.) can of cannellini beans, drained
- 1 (14-oz.) can of whole, stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbsp milk (preferably whole or 2%)
- ½ tsp Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on a large dinner plate. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of lemon juice over chicken breasts and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Set a large, heavy-bottom soup pot over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil with onions and garlic. Sauté until onion begins to soften and turn translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add peppers, zucchini, and squash and sauté until they begin to soften, about 10-12 minutes.
Add cornstarch and stir until all the veggies are coated. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Add kale, stewed tomatoes with its juices (breaking the tomatoes apart with your hands as you add them), cannellini beans, chicken stock, rosemary, bay leaf, and reserved lemon juice; stir to combine. Season with ½ tsp of Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper; stir again and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Once the vegetables have finished cooking, use a spoon to find the bay leaf and discard. Add milk and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes creamy, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large straight-sided skillet (preferably cast iron) set over medium-high, add remaining 2 Tbsp of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add reserved lemons, cut side down, and grill for 2-3 minutes, or until they just begin to blacken at the edges. Flip lemons and grill for another minute on the peel side.
Using the same skillet, reduce heat to medium. Lift chicken breasts from the plate, shaking off excess lemon juice, and carefully place in the hot oil, smooth side down. Cook, undisturbed, for 7-9 minutes or until evenly browned (chicken should lift easily from the pan without sticking). Flip and cook on the second side for 7-9 minutes or until evenly browned and no pink remains in the center of the breast when cut. Transfer chicken to a clean plate and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Note: This dish tastes even better the next day, so don’t be shy about doubling the recipe and reheating the leftovers later in the week.
Sidekick: For red wine drinkers: serve with Chianti. For white wine drinkers: serve with Sauvignon Blanc. For calorie counters: serve with water.