Bucking chicken boredom



Chicken is a dinner staple for millions of Americans, and why not?  It is lean, healthy, inexpensive, easy to prepare and kid-friendly.

So why are so many of us bored to death with our chicken dinners?

Despite chicken's versatility, most of us find ourselves in a chicken rut. I'd guess you have a few chicken recipes that you could whip up in your sleep.  And you make them over and over and over again.  I understand: by the time you wander into the kitchen to make dinner you are exhausted from the day's activities.  Quick, easy, prep that requires little thought is paramount.

But chicken's mild flavor makes it a great meat to experiment and get creative with.  Feel like something sweet, mild, spicy or crunchy?  You can do it with chicken.  With that idea in mind, this week I went foraging in my refrigerator to see what I could throw together. I hope it will inspire you to create your own culinary masterpiece.

All the ingredients came from within my house.  No extra trips to the grocery store.  No fancy stuff.

Chicken smothered with tomatoes, olives, and nuts:
Serves 4 adults
Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
  1. Season chicken tenderloins with salt and pepper.  (I usually bake 2 tenderloins for women and 3 for men).  Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. 
  2. Prepare farro (or another grain) according to package directions.  (Farro is an ancient grain high in protein and fiber.  I read about its virtues recently and stumbled upon it at Costco last weekend.  It is good.  It has a nutty flavor and a consistency similar to barley).   
  3. While the chicken and farro are cooking, prepare tomato and olive topping:
    1. Cut one pint of cherry or grape tomatoes in quarters.  Place in bowl and set aside.
    2. In another bowl combine:
      1. Six colossal green olives, chopped
      2. 1/3 cup chopped hazel nuts
      3. 1/4 cup of raisins
    3. Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
      1. Add tomatoes.  Cover, stirring often until they are soft.
      2. Add bowl of olives, hazel nuts, and raisins.  Cook until raisins are soft.
  4. Create beds of farro on each plate.  Top with chicken.  Lay topping on chicken.  Sprinkle with pecorino romano, if desired.  Add a green vegetable to each plate.

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