Anywho, I have been wanting to do a chicken & fruit recipe for a couple of weeks now, and thought now was as good a time as any to try one. Though I had considered doing comfortable and safe for the shoot, I decided to be bold and experiment a bit with this one anyway. I already knew it would be a pretty tasty dish, especially considering how delicious fresh fruit has been lately. The combination of sweet & tart fruit, crisp cilantro, and spicy Serrano peppers atop some lightly seasoned chicken seemed impossibly easy and potentially delicious. And I love that the folks from KOVR 13 went along with the whole thing and watched with curious, but encouraging faces as I chopped and threw stuff together.
Once again I'm focusing on simplicity, as I thoroughly enjoy the remainder of summer fruits and veggies. Don't get me wrong, I love complicated sauces and soups and stews, but I will have plenty of that coming up as the colder weather sets in. Right now I not only want to keep the actual gruntwork in the kitchen to a minimum due to the heat, but remind myself - and others - how delicious some foods can be without a lot of fanfare. All this recipe boils down to is some chopping and some pan frying, yet you'll end up with an elegant looking, fresh tasting dish that would cost a lot more if you were to order this at a restaurant. And as I mentioned before, this dish is very healthy and low in calories, so those of you who are watching your weight can definitely throw this on the menu. The most fat you'll find here comes from the little bit in the chicken and a tiny bit of olive oil, and the melon & nectarine add an interesting texture and some unexpected fruit fiber, which is always good. In terms of the relish, I would definitely suggest preparing it as written but ahead of time (day before would be awesome), as the fruit will naturally release its own juices and you will end up with a juicier relish. I had prepared this on the spot, so this didn't end up happening for the finished product that will be shown in the shoot, but it was still very tasty.
The best part of the whole thing was letting the producer and photographer try some when the dish was finished. If I could have gotten a good shot of their faces when they tried it I would have definitely posted that because it was so fun to watch them enjoy this! The best compliment a cook can get is that look of utter satisfaction on her diner's faces, and even if I look silly on TV next week, I know I made some new fans. :)
Chicken with Summer Melon-Nectarine Relish (serves 3-4; total cost per serving: ~$2)
4 medium boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, if you prefer)
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t granulated garlic
1 T olive oil or just a few sprays of olive oil cooking spray
2-3 cups baby spring mix or spinach
1/2 cantaloupe, diced
1 small nectarine, diced
1/2 c diced red onion
1 medium Serrano pepper, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 6 key limes
1 T agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t granulated garlic
Combine the garlic, black pepper, salt and ground ginger, mix together, and lightly season the chicken thighs on both sides. In a large skillet heat the oil or cooking spray over medium heat, add the chicken, cover and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside.
While chicken is cooking, combine the cantaloupe, nectarine, Serrano pepper and cilantro, and toss together lightly. In a small bowl, whisk together the key lime juice, agave nectar, salt, and garlic, then add to the fruit mixture and mix well. Allow the cooked chicken to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Arrange a large handful of greens on a plate, add some of the sliced chicken, followed by a generous amount of the melon-nectarine relish. Enjoy!
Note: If you like a juicier relish, simply prepare up to a day ahead of time and store in the fridge.