Now that we’ve officially ridden a sweet sugar high this week, it’s time to get back to the nutritional basics–good proteins and healthy fiber. We are maniacs for substituting ingredients. When we really want to make a dish, we just go for it hoping that what we have on hand will do. The craving for some sort of crusted chicken creation came on strong, and we had no bread crumbs. A crafty cook knows that you can easily make your own bread crumbs at home, but that only works if you have bread on hand. We did not. And we didn’t feel like making a run to the store for a crusty baguette. As is usually the case, there was a bag of nuts sitting in the freezer–pine nuts this time. Just enough to get us out of a quick run to the market.
Using nuts in cooking can really get you far. They have a flavor that can’t be matched and that also complements a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Plus, they can go from whole nut in a salad to processed down into a flour for a cake or pulverized completely into a spreadable nut butter if you so choose (think peanuts or almonds or walnuts even!). This time we took a tiny bag of leftover pine nuts, smashed them into oblivion and mixed that with a few fresh herbs to create a nutty crust for chicken tenderloins. The veggie studded pearl barley was a nice side dish.
Herby Pine Nut Chicken with Vegetable Pearl Barley – Serves 4
8-12 chicken breast tenders
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons basil, minced
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts, crushed
4 tablespoons green onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons mint, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup corn, drained
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1. Place 3 cups of water to boil on the stove.
2. Drop in pearl barley, add a few pinches of salt and allow to cook 30-40 minutes.
3. During last 20 minutes of barley’s cooking, toss celery, corn and red onion in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Cook on medium low heat until veggies have softened slightly, approximately 5 minutes. Add white wine and cook another 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent. Remove from heat.
4. As veggies rest and pearl barley finishes boiling, mix flour with green onions, herbs, spices and pine nuts. Add zest and mix well.
5. Season both sides of chicken with salt, if desired.
6. Dip chicken in egg and coat in flour and herb mixture.
7. Drop a bit of olive oil in a pan on the stove and once the temperature is right, lay in chicken. Cook until juices run clear, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.
8. To finish off meal, mix veggies into pearl barley and serve with chicken.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.