Poultry & Pork

Going Nuts in the Kitchen

Herby Pine Nut Chicken with Pearl Barley-The Duo Dishes

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
Olive oil
Kosher salt

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.


44 thoughts on “Going Nuts in the Kitchen

  1. Yummy substitution, definitely more exciting than breadcrumbs, I love the texture and color. This whole meal looks quite satisfying.

  2. Awesome. I love nut-crusted chicken. I agree it can be tastier than breadcrumbs and give a little more nutritional punch. Pine nuts are also a huge favorite of mine.

    I love barley too. It’s a fun grain to play with because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavor. You can play with it in so many ways. I’m making a chicken barley soup tonight to take for lunch this week, in fact.

  3. It’s too easy to forego the nutritional basics, and this looks like a supremely delicious way to get them. I love what you’ve done with the pine nuts here!

  4. This sounds fabulous and looks even better. And the whole philosophy behind the substitution is how we discover something super wonderful!

  5. I never woulda thought of replacing bread crumbs with nuts! You guys are so crafty 🙂 I love inventive ideas like that… plus, I’m still kinda “new cook” status so often I don’t have the necessary fancy ingredients for recipes I wanna try. Good to hear “find and replace” is a technique you food stars use 🙂

  6. I made a huge pot of chicken and barley soup the other day. I love barley, but I have to say I never used it as a side dish. I really don’t know why. I love barley.

    I think the pine nuts are a wonderful addition to the chicken. Good thinking!

  7. I love this! I don’t really bread things but I always have pine nuts on hand ——– delicious thoughts are running through my head!! Thanks for a great post!

  8. I am so familiar with that “can I get away without having to go to the store” scenario – and it can sometimes have some great results, like coming up with that lovely pine nut crust for instance… 🙂

  9. You can never go wrong with pine nuts. Also, I highly recommend a bag of Japanese panko breadcrumbs in you your pantry. It keeps a long time, and it’s the greatest thing to get a crispy crust on most anything.

  10. This is exactly the kind of recipe I love to serve my family…have a meyer lemon recipe for the round? PEEP contest entey?

  11. I really need to do more cooking based on what I already have on hand. I end up going out to get things to make certain, specific recipes and then don’t use them up!

  12. YES! I love pine nuts so much. This sounds soooo much better than any ole bread crumb crusted chicken. What a fabulous idea!! Oh man, I can’t wait to make this!!

  13. This looks awesome – If my hubby was not stuck on Thai curry for dinner, I’d be fixing this – his loss! =^)

  14. I have actually never cooked with barley before in the kitchen (except in those crazy grain mixes that my husband occasionally buys), but I do have pine nuts at home, so this recipe is next on my “to try” list!

  15. Mmm, I love using nuts as a coating for chicken in place of bread. Nuts make everything super delicious and the combination of herbs is a winner for sure. As usual, you’re making me hungry, Duo!

  16. Holy cow, that looks great! I am famous for starting a recipe and not having all the stuff to make it, so I am also getting creative when you don’t have the right ingredient!

    I’ve used oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, ground flax seed, corn meal, etc… and it mostly turns out ok!

    Thanks for sharing that recipe!

  17. I have half a bag of pine nuts in the fridge right now, I totally want to make this. My husband doesn’t really like pine nuts, but maybe if I chop them finely he won’t notice 🙂

  18. I use a pine nut crust on salmon all the time, and it is delicious, but I have to agree with the two previous comments-the barley is show stopping-it just looks so healthy and pretty.

  19. Hmm…looks like I can’t edit my post. Oh well. Looking at the barley more…it looks more like the texture of medium grain brown rice (like PF Chang’s uses.) In any case, I’m game to try it.

  20. I’m with Megan on the barley excepte I’ve never explored or experienced it. It looks like it has a steel cut oats texture – which I absolutely love so I’m game to try it.

    The use of nuts for a crust is lovely. I’ll definitely have to try it. Whenever I run out of bread (I don’t think I’ve ever used store bought breadcrumbs), I use crackers mixed with a bit of parm and dry italian dressing seasoning mix. Cracker breading heaven. Please believe me!

    keep it cookin’, duo!!!

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