The countdown has begun! Every day that passes is one day closer to our trip to sunny and beautiful Puerto Vallarta! I’m probably going to pass out with excitement before this post goes out, so if this just sort of trails off near the end, try to forgive me!
With the pending necessity of wearing far skimpier clothing in public, however, comes the need for healthier food choices. Today is all about a high-protein, low-bad-stuff chicken breast recipe. Here’s a surprisingly easy (stay with me, here!) and healthy recipe for a fun and different spicy sriracha chicken salad with arugula “pesto” and lemon!
Spicy was the desire of the day. A meal with a little kick to boost metabolism and full of protein and vitamins. Something fresh and light, vibrantly green, and juuuuust healthy enough to believe that somehow I’ll be able to look halfway decent in a bathing suit in just a few short weeks. I’m pretty sure “healthy” is the main reason people search for a good chicken breast recipe, and this one definitely fits into that category!
This dish, though it maybe looks complicated, is really basically a kind of spicy chicken salad, just plated in an interesting way. You’re looking at a simple chicken breast, arugula, and pesto salad with sliced lemons. Really. Plus it’s an awesome way to use up your extra parsley and extra lemons, if, like me, you have way too much of both right now!
If you wanted, you could just toss the arugula with the arugula-parsley “pesto” and the lemon slices, and then top it with the chicken and a little more Sriracha. Super easy!
This is a fun way to dress up an otherwise ordinary boneless, skinless chicken breast for a seriously tasty chicken breast recipe, even if you don’t want a salad but would rather have this on a sandwich or with some simple steamed vegetables. This chicken breast gets broken down a little by the spice and citrus, making it tender and lovely. The puree here is a super simple “pesto” kind of thing, but with parsley and arugula instead of basil, walnuts instead of pine nuts, and no cheese. It’s vibrantly fresh and green, and the brightness of the puree and the lemons works incredibly well with the spicy chicken breast. (There would be nothing wrong with turning this into a spicy chicken pesto sandwich with fresh lemon!)Assume you can do this and just go for it! Click To Tweet
The reality, though, is that putting your meal together like this isn’t actually any more complicated than tossing a salad! You just put the “pesto” on the plate, the sliced chicken on top of that, and add a little salad with greens, olive oil, salt and pepper off to the side! Then, you can just squeeze some sriracha straight from the bottle for a fun garnish. Most of the dishes on this site look really impressive, but are actually incredibly simple if you can just muster the confidence to try a couple of different techniques. Never be daunted by complicated-looking food; assume you can do this and just go for it! Trust me, you can! If I can teach addicts, ex-cons, and high school kids to do this when half the time we don’t even speak the same language, I can help you learn too. If you have trouble, give me a chance to help you!
This recipe has both fresh and charred lemon slices. I’m lucky enough to have access to fresh Meyer lemons right off the tree, which have a sweeter flavor and a surprisingly tender skin. You might not have those! If you don’t have awesome fresh lemons, you can omit them, add a little lemon zest to your salad, or even use some of your preserved lemons!
Don’t be afraid to try the lemon you have. Basically, the best way to know if you have a lemon worth eating raw is to taste it! Lemon peel and lemon pith are totally edible (there’s lemon zest in probably half of your favorite desserts and more than a few of the cocktails you (used to…) enjoy), the only issue is whether the quality of the lemon in front of you is something that you want to chew on, or whether it’s sour and tough and seriously not delicious. I call that the “IS IT YUMMY???!!!???” test, in honor of a sous chef I had long ago who used to shriek that at us as we cooked. He was a strange and intense gentleman who had a tendency to get in hot water after, say, threatening employees with a knife for example, but I learned an incredible amount from him.IS IT YUMMY???!!!??? Click To Tweet
So, with no further ado, I give you
A Healthy Chicken Breast Recipe:
Spicy Sriracha Chicken with Arugula-Parsley “Pesto” and Lemon
- 1 ea chicken breast
- 1 ea meyer lemon, thinly sliced in rings (reserve ends for squeezing)
- 2 Tbs + 2 tsp sriracha
- 3 dashes Tapatilo or other hot sauce
- 1/2 Tbs butter
- 1 tsp + 1 tsp +1 tsp + 2 tsp olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 1 bunch parsley, cleaned and picked
- 2 cups arugula, cleaned (could substitute spinach or kale) (reserve 1/2 cup for salad)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large (or 2 small) cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs walnuts, chopped (could substitute almonds)
- salt, pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil
- Prepare an ice bath (a container of ice water)
- Blanch the parsley and arugula for a few seconds and immediately plunge in the ice bath
- When the greens are totally cold, squeeze all of the excess water out and roughly chop.
- Add the walnuts and garlic to the oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and puree. Add the greens and puree until pretty smooth, but still bright green. If you puree too long, the greens will turn brown.
- Taste, adjust seasoning, and keep cool until ready to use
- Heat a pan with 1 tsp olive oil until very hot.
- Carefully add a few lemon slices in a single layer. When the first side is golden and charred in places, carefully flip over and cook the other side until well colored. Remove from heat, sprinkle with a little salt.
- Heat the butter, hot sauce, Sriracha, and 1 tsp olive oil until everything is melted, warm, and mix well to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Heat an oven-safe pan with 1 tsp olive oil until nearly smoking
- Season the chicken breast liberally with salt and pepper.
- Carefully add to the hot pan, brush with a little spicy sriracha sauce, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until golden. Carefully flip, cook for 1-2 minutes, squeeze lemon juice over, pour a thick layer of spicy sauce on top, and place in the oven. Cook until well done through the center, approx. 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken breast. Coat with remaining spicy sauce and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, at a slight diagonal.
- Toss 1/2 cup arugula with 2 tsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little freshly cracked black pepper.
- Plate a few lemon slices and top with the arugula. Dot with Sriracha.
- Place some arugula puree on the plate off to one side and drag a butter knife, spoon, or offset spatula through to spread across your plate. Top with sliced chicken, and drizzle Sriracha over. Place charred lemon slices around, dig in, and enjoy!