Monday, August 1, 2011

Warm Chicken with Green Beans & Chard (and a side of Banana Nut Crunch and Aliens)

I'm just not even sure where to begin with this post.

This has been one of the most physically and emotionally exhausting days ever in a while. I haven't slept much over the last week thanks to a raging case of poison oak (thank you modern medicine for a tiny bit of relief from the itching and blistering pain). And of course, all this went down while we were in Florida on vacation visiting my folks.

We get back yesterday (8 hours in a Prius with 5 people), pick up Ruby from the vet, do the dishes and laundry (how can these multiply when you're not even in the state?!?), cook a little, mark a couple girlie milestones, then collapse.

Then the real challenge begins.

I get to work this morning to find out one of my favorite co-workers is leaving. Yup, this guy's moving up to the big sandbox as Morning Edition host at Nashville Public Radio. It's a great move for a super-talented pubradio star, but it's going to leave an awfully big hole in our operation.

After absorbing that news, doing a little stratergizing (c'mon, channel your inner George Bush -- W or Herbert Walker) that might just land me back on the air as a full-time host for a while, spending nearly two hours editing a pretty cool documentary on the history of the Peace Corps, then a couple of conference calls about upcoming workshops I'm giving ...

Well, I just thought I was due a little respite from the drama.

But Nooooo! The News Gods won't have it!

These guys decided to sue these guys over this highly-controversial new law. So at 4:30 p.m. I found myself on a conference call with "government officials" (who refused to be quoted by name for the story) and at 5:15 I start calling local PR peeps, law firms, police offices and others to line up interviews for a full-length piece I have to file tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention the newscast story I filed for NPR at 6:15?


But seriously, I think I earned the rant (and I thank you graciously for indulging), because when I got home at 6:30 I found a kitchen counter and sink filled with dirty dishes, a husband with a severe headache, a dog who whines and winces when I even try to touch her (can dogs get poison oak?!? I think the pooch is suffering) AND ants crawling in my kitchen window and towards the dog food bowl in a marching formation that would make Patton proud.

Wah, wah, waaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!


And yes, it's a little cliche, but...

Hungry kids, hungry hubby, hungry me ... time for a little culinary meditation. There's nothing better than Fresh Air on re-run while chopping and cutting and boiling and sauteeing. (okay, no kids, no hubby, a bowl of Banana Nut Crunch and a Law & Order marathon might be a close second!)

But we have a plan for this week, so it didn't take long to gather the ingredients and get cooking some Warm Chicken with Green Beans and Chard from .

The Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • A small shallot
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Small bunch of mint, stems discarded, leaves finely chopped (We left this out. Jason doesn't like mint)

For the chicken and salad

  • 2 plump boneless chicken breasts
  • A little oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Sprig rosemary, finely chopped (forget this. d'oh!)
  • 7 ounces green beans, preferably the slender French ones
  • 12 stalks rainbow Swiss chard
  • 6 smallish tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
  • A few nasturtium blossoms or leaves, if you wish (Woulda been pretty, but we weren't springing for 'em this time)


Make the dressing

1. Peel and chop the shallot very finely. Place it in a screw-top jar with a good pinch of salt, the lemon juice, olive oil, and mint. Screw on the lid and shake the jar to mix the dressing. (that's easy enough!)

Make the chicken and salad

2. Preheat a grill or grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

3. Brush the chicken with the oil, season with the salt and black pepper, and scatter with the rosemary. Grill or sear the chicken until cooked through.  Let rest on a plate for 10 minutes, covered.

4. Meanwhile, trim the ends from the beans. Slice the chard stalks into about 1-inch lengths and remove and reserve the leaves. Boil the beans and the chard stalks in boiling water until tender—a matter of 2 or 3 minutes in each case, depending on the size. Dip the chard leaves into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and drain.

5. Pour the dressing into a bowl, add the drained green beans, chard leaves and stalks, the tomatoes, and the nasturtium flowers if you’re using them.  Cut the chicken breasts into thick slices—about four each—and place on top of the salad.


Jason -- The chard has a really nice flavor to it.

Hannah -- I didn't really like the Swiss Chard. I didn't like the texture of it. It was kind of slimy. of course I love chicken, so I loved the chicken. Sorry! I don't know what else there is to say. I'd rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Olivia -- The chard is disgusting and nasty! I tried choking it down, but I just don't like chard. (at which point I reminded her that she RAVED about the Rustic Swiss Chard and Fontina Tart we made recently)

Chef Tanya -- I liked it, but I'm a much bigger fan of barely cooked vegetables. I like the crispy crunch of a bean that's only been blanched and the zing of a good lemon-oil-shallot dressing. The chicken's just the bonus. If you're like me and the veggies are the real stars in your eyes, you should definitely give this a try.

So. Do I feel better about my day? A little. I cooked. We ate. I snuggled with Ruby on the couch and watched Fallen Skies. When the outlaw character sniped about some new radio technology another character was working on:  "Great, maybe you can get NPR on that thing and we can bore the aliens to death" -- well, I laughed. It was funny!

Maybe the best way to get through some days really is to find the little things to appreciate.  That, and a bowl of Banana Nut Crunch at nearly midnight.

Photos: Big Sur, Yoga, Serenity

1 comment:

  1. Hilarious (in a twisted humor sort of way.) Love the recipe.