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Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Chicken Classics from Southern Italy

Chicken is a popular dish served throughout the Mediterranean. Chicken is widely popular in Italy, including in some of those classic, much-loved dishes such as chicken cacciatore and chicken piccata.

Chicken Cacciatore

Prep time: 12 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skin-on chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. In a large plastic freezer bag, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, and the red pepper flakes. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and shake to coat.

  2. In a large Dutch oven or an electric skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

  3. Add the bell peppers, onions, and garlic to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom to pick up the browned bits. Add the wine and sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes.

  4. Add the tomatoes (with the liquid), chicken stock, capers, and remaining oregano and return the chicken to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

  5. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it sit for a few minutes prior to cutting. Using a sharp knife, cut each breast if necessary to ensure six servings.

  6. Place the chicken onto a serving platter, ladle the sauce over the top, and top with the basil and Parmesan prior to serving.

Per serving: Calories 399 (From Fat 139); Fat 15g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 99mg; Sodium 1129mg; Carbohydrate 22g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 39g.

Chicken Piccata

Prep time: 12 minutes

Cook time: 18 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Four 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic power

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon plus 1 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon or base

1 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Using a meat mallet or heavy pan, pound the chicken into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.

  3. In a shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the flour, the garlic powder, salt, and paprika. In another bowl, combine the egg and 1 tablespoon of the water; place the remaining flour in a third bowl.

  4. Dredge the chicken in the flour-garlic mixture and shake off any excess. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then coat with the plain flour and place onto a baking sheet.

  5. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown on each side (3 to 4 minutes per side). Return the chicken to the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, add the bouillon and the remaining water to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits into the sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

  7. Whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the sauce. Add the parsley. Transfer the cooked chicken to a serving dish and top with the sauce prior to serving.

Per serving: Calories 405 (From Fat 161); Fat 18g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 95mg; Sodium 797mg; Carbohydrate 20g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 39g.

Lemon Chicken Scaloppine

Prep time: 12 minutes

Cook time: 24 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Four 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons water

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise to create thin chicken breasts fillets.

  3. In a shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the flour and the salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine the eggs and water. Mix the panko and the remaining flour in a third bowl.

  4. Dredge chicken in the flour-salt mixture and shake off any excess. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then coat with the panko mixture and place onto a baking sheet.

  5. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces in batches and brown on each side (6 to 8 minutes per side).

  6. Keep the chicken warm in the oven on an ovenproof serving platter until you cook all the pieces. Drizzle the lemon juice over the cooked chicken and serve.

Per serving: Calories 271 (From Fat 95); Fat 11g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 71mg; Sodium 522mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 29g.

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