Almond Crusted Chicken Aglio Olio with Mandarin Watercress Salad

Although I try to cook everyday, Sundays are the days to tackle those mercilessly difficult recipes. Like every other Sunday, I had big plans for today, which includes an oven roasted duck ballotine and a quiche, but as you can see, it wasn’t realised. Why? I woke up at 5pm thanks to overindulgence in Julia Child and Jamie Oliver till 6am. That said, the stomach still needs food and the show must go on, and this calls for a fail-proof 1 hour recipe (including sprinting to the supermarket for ingredients).

Today’s dinner featured aglio olio tossed with almond crusted popcorn chicken served with a refreshing watercress salad with mandarin vinaigrette.  Watercress (like rockets) is perfect with any oily pasta since the bitterness promotes digestion so you can eat more and not feel greased out.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

for pasta –

1 packet (400 grams) of spaghettini no. 3 (or any long pasta of your choice)

0.5 cup finely chopped garlic

1 cup brown beech mushrooms

1 cup finely chopped parsley

2 heaped tbsp chilli flakes

olive oil

sea salt

pepper

for chicken –

400 g chicken breast

0.5 cups almonds

0.5 cups plain flour

1 egg (beaten)

1 tsp paprika

salt, pepper

for salad –

2 cups washed watercress

50 mls olive oil

25 mls of apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

zest of 1 mandarin

juice of 1 mandarin

Method:

Dice chicken into bite sized cubes. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.

In a food processor, pulverize almonds with a bit of flour to prevent them from sticking together.

Lightly coat the seasoned chicken in plain flour and dip them in egg.

Coat the egg dipped chicken in the ground almond.

Heat oil in pan and fry the chicken until golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside.

Strain the oil used for frying and clean the pan. Do not discard oil.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente.

Drain and lightly coat with olive oil to prevent it from drying out.

Return the strained oil to the pan, heat it to medium, and throw in garlic and chilli flakes.

Sweat the garlic until they turn slightly brown but not burnt.

Remove from heat and immediately add in chicken, mushrooms, parsley, salt, pepper and drained pasta.

Toss away.

Combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, tahini, mandarin juice and mandarin zest and whisk till emulsified.

Pour over watercress and toss till even.

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