Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CEiMB: Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

It's my week for picking a recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly.  I chose for our group to make the Saffron Chicken, Lemon, and Green Bean Salad from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.  I wanted to pick a recipe that would both use some summer ingredients like green beans and fresh mint, and I also wanted something healthy and light I could take to work for lunch.

However, the main reason I chose this recipe was because it had an unusual cooking technique that I had never tried before.  The recipe calls for boiling a whole lemon for 50 minutes until it breaks down, and the skin is so soft that you actually scoop out the pulp and chop up the peel and add it to salad.  It's kind of messy because the pulp disintegrates and breaks down, so scooping out the pulp is a bit difficult, and I wanted to completely get the skin clean and free of the pith, so I found that laying the lemon flat on the counter and scraping out the pulp with a spoon worked rather well.

I found this salad to be so delicious.  Chicken is marinated in fresh mint, saffron, garlic and lemon juice.  Once it is cooked, it is combined with steamed green beans and the chopped lemon peel.  You then toss the salad in a lemon-honey dressing.  The mint and lemon combination is so bright and fresh.  It really is bursting with lemon flavor, but it is soft and mellow, not tart or abrasive at all.  The saffron adds a subtle floral flavor and the sweet honey balances out the lemon flavor.  I think this recipe is a wonderful discovery, and I will make it again and again.

Saffron Chicken, Lemon, and Green Bean Salad

  • 1 lemon, preferably unwaxed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste, divided
  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Prick the lemon in 3 or 4 places with a fork and place in a small pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the lemon is very tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, mix the saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into a sealable plastic bag, add the chicken and let it marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. 

Steam the green beans for 4 minutes and set aside to cool. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat a large skillet or grill pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Cut into bite-sized chunks.

Slice the ends off of the lemon and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp. Slice the peel thinly and then again into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, lemon, green beans and thyme. In a small bowl combine the rest of the lemon juice and the honey, whisk in the remainder of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

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