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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. This balsamic chicken recipe is an extraordinary meal that just might become a new regular in your rotation.

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.


Balsamic Chicken With Watercress and Nectarine Salad



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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