Allow me to propose an alternative — a dish that’s simultaneously light and refreshing and substantial: chicken paillard. Paillard is a French culinary term referring to a piece of meat pounded thin, then grilled or sauteed. In this case, we’re going to marinate and grill chicken breasts, then top them off with a peach and arugula salad glorified with a full-fat blue cheese dressing.
Where do you find these skinny cuts of chicken? Chances are you can pick up thin chicken breast cutlets at the supermarket. Or you can buy chicken breasts of average girth, pop them in the freezer for 30 minutes, then cut them horizontally into two thin cutlets.
Whatever kind of breasts you start with, you’ll need to pound the cutlets to the desired thinness. Next, it’s time to bathe the cutlets for an hour in a simple marinade of olive oil, lemon and garlic. Grilling the cutlets takes almost no time at all, about 1 minute per side. Let them rest for 5 minutes and they’re good to go.
They also happen to be delicious at room temperature an hour later, which gives you the option of grilling up the chicken ahead of time.
And the salad is a cinch — sliced fresh summer peaches and baby arugula (or your favorite greens) tossed with a blue cheese dressing. Happily, a little bit of full-fat blue cheese goes a long way. Toasted walnuts (a king among nuts, health-wise) provide the final touch.
GRILLED CHICKEN PAILLARDS WITH PEACH AND ARUGULA SALAD
Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
2 pounds chicken breasts, pounded 1/16-inch-thick
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8 cups baby arugula
4 large peaches, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 ounces finely crumbled blue cheese
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
In large zip-close plastic bag, combine chicken with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and several grindings of pepper. Mix, then chill for 1 hour.
Heat grill to medium-high. Use oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to oil grill grates.
Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess liquid drip off. Grill chicken until just cooked, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in large bowl combine arugula and peaches. In small bowl combine yogurt, mayonnaise and blue cheese. Stir in enough water to achieve desired consistency (about 1/3 cup), then season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss well.
To serve, arrange one of the paillards on each serving plate and top with salad and nuts.