Want to cook healthful meals yet impress your guests? You don’t need rich sauces or fat. Simply add a couple of snips of fresh herbs. Whether you grow herbs or purchase them at the supermarket, herbs are a good investment. Chopped flat-leaf parsley or mint can take a dish from acceptable to remarkable.
Experiment with a couple of ingredients at first, since fresh herbs won’t keep in the refrigerator longer than 7-10 days, even if wrapped in a damp paper cloth and sealed in a storage bag. When shopping, have a few dishes in mind then herb-shop accordingly.
A can’t lose combination is chicken seasoned with garlic and chopped rosemary. Thinking Italian? Basil and thyme pair well with most dishes. Mexican sparkles when garnished with fresh cilantro and dried or fresh oregano. Another trick to reducing fat without flavor is to add a small amount of butter at the end of cooking rather than use a stick or more for cooking. Use butter as a flavoring. A tiny bit goes a long way.
Here are a couple of recipes to whet your appetite.
Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Sauce
Saffron is expensive, but a little bit goes a long way. When making this dish, plan to make paella later in the week using more of the saffron.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 chicken cutlets (scallopine)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
½ cup white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
¼ tsp. saffron threads
1 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved in ½ cup milk
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Cook in the oil until done, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Add the shallot and garlic, cooking until tender (2-3 minutes). Increase the heat to medium then add white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the chicken broth and saffron threads, bring to a simmer and let the mixture reduce (10 minutes). Add the milk-cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
Remove from heat. Add butter and allow to melt then stir into sauce for a finishing gloss. Drizzle sauce over chicken cutlets and serve.
Gremolata is a seasoning blend of parsley, minced garlic, and lemon zest. It makes an impressive condiment topping for veal, fish, and chicken.
2 chicken breasts, skinned
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
½ cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts with a rub of Dijon mustard mixed with 2 cloves minced garlic, and the juice of one lemon (Zest the lemon and reserve). Bake chicken for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. (Baking time will vary if using boneless chicken breasts. Be careful not to overcook)
Remove chicken from oven and let it rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, combine the chopped parsley, lemon zest, and minced garlic for gremolata. Top chicken with the mixture and serve.
Added tip: When cooking chicken, double the amount. Then you have a head start on tomorrow’s dinner!