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Balsamic Chicken With Watercress and Nectarine Salad

Balsamic Chicken With Watercress and Nectarine Salad

Photo: Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Here, a mix of peppery watercress, juicy nectarines and thinly sliced red onion is tossed with a sweet-tangy balsamic vinaigrette and piled onto grilled chicken that has been pounded thin in the French paillard style. The result is an extraordinary meal that just might become your new regular.

Feel free to substitute another leafy green, such as baby kale or arugula, or a different stone fruit, such as peaches or plums.

The chicken also can be cooked on the stove top in a grill pan over medium-high heat.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 pounds total), tenderloins and visible fat removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 3 1/2 ounces (1 bunch) fresh watercress, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups lightly packed)
1 medium ripe nectarine, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin half-moons

Prepare the grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (400 degrees) with the lid closed. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush the grill grate.

Place the chicken breast halves between two sheets of plastic wrap, then pound each one to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (You can also ask the butcher to do that.)

Whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a liquid measuring cup to form an emulsified dressing. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the dressing to a bowl; use it to brush the chicken all over. (Reserve the rest of the dressing for the salad; discard any dressing left over from brushing the chicken.)

Place the chicken on the grill. Cook (uncovered) for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through, with light char marks. Transfer to a plate.

Toss the watercress, nectarine and onion with the reserved dressing in a large bowl. Divide the chicken evenly among individual plates. Top each portion with one-quarter of the salad, and serve right away.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: Calories 280; Total Fat 14g (Saturated Fat 3g); Cholesterol 105mg; Sodium 210mg; Total Carbohydrates 5g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Protein 32g; Sugar 4g

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