Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP: To make shorter work of thawing chicken breasts, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Thaw them, wrapped, in a large bowl of very cold water.
Penne with Rosemary Chicken and Sweet Bell Peppers
6 ounces penne pasta (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups thinly sliced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1/4-inch thick strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 sweet bell peppers, mixed colors, cut in thin strips
1/2 cup pitted coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup bottled tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup basil leaves, cut in thin strips
1. Cook the penne according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly golden, translucent and very soft. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the chicken to the pan with the salt, pepper and rosemary. Cook, turning once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the bowl. Add the peppers to the skillet and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the olives and pasta sauce, cook 1 more minute, and transfer to the bowl.
4. Add the basil and pasta to the bowl, toss and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 482 calories, 34 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 18 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 891 mg sodium
Balsamic Chicken with Pears and Almonds
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, pounded to even 1/4-inch thickness (or thin cut breasts)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pears, peeled and cut in thin slices
1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden and the chicken registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
3. Add the pear slices and cook, turning once, until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan. Add the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and honey and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 6 minutes, or the liquid is thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Add the chicken back to the pan and turn it over once to glaze it lightly with the sauce; add the pear slices. Sprinkle the nuts over the chicken, cover the pan and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, or until chicken is warmed through. Serve with the sauce, nuts and pears spooned over the chicken. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 264 calories, 26 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 508 mg sodium
Chicken Breasts With Orange Sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
4 (4-ounce) boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Combine the cumin, salt, garlic powder and cayenne in a bowl. Sprinkle evenly over all surfaces of the chicken.
2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the chicken and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through or 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove chicken from pan and drape lightly with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, 15 seconds until slightly softened. Add the lemon juice, orange juice and honey and boil, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over it. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 210 calories, 25 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 425 mg sodium