I’m willing to bet that in your refrigerator right now, there are at least a few random jars of antipasto-type vegetables needing to get eaten. Searching mine recently, I found several artichoke hearts bobbing around in one jar, roughly a quarter cup of pimento-stuffed olives floating in another and a lonesome roasted red pepper in yet a third.
If there was ever a time to take a fresh look at what’s on hand, it’s now, so rather than shut the refrigerator door as usual on these random leftovers, I pulled them together to make this enticing skillet meal.
The whimsical and very practical thing about it is that it doesn’t matter exactly what you have in those jars – any combination of vegetables will do, from the artichokes, olives and roasted peppers I mentioned to sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, capers and hot cherry peppers. (Use the salty and spicy elements in smaller amounts so they don’t take over.)
Just give the vegetables a coarse chop, and you are well on your way to a quick, one-pan chicken dinner with a supremely tasty sauce.
Dredging chicken breasts lightly in flour and browning them in the skillet leaves dark golden bits in the pan, which, after adding garlic, is dissolved with white wine (you could substitute chicken broth) to form the base of the sauce. Once the wine is reduced, the chopped vegetables are tossed in along with some water and simmered until warm.
A tablespoon of butter rounds out the flavor of the sauce and adds a lovely, light richness, but you could leave it out or add another tablespoon of oil if you prefer. The chicken goes back into the pan to finish cooking, and as it simmers its browned flour coating dissolves a bit, adding a touch more body to the sauce.
The final step is to adjust the seasonings, adding lemon juice and or salt as needed, depending on the acidity and salt levels of the vegetables involved. I like to pile it all over a bed of arugula, letting the warm sauce relax the leaves, barely wilting them. You could substitute another green such as baby kale or spinach or serve the dish over rice or orzo.
The result is a boldly tasty meal that takes less than 30 minutes and clears out the collection of half-empties in the refrigerator. If I have lost my bet and you don’t have any already opened jars on hand, I’d argue it’s worth buying a couple of new ones just to make this.
Antipasto Chicken Skillet
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each) pounded to 1/2-inch thick
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups coarsely chopped, drained jarred vegetables (any mix of vegetables such as roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, capers)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
4 cups (about 3 ounces) lightly packed baby arugula
Place the flour on a plate, add the salt and pepper, and gently whisk to combine. Dredge the chicken in the flour so it is lightly coated, shaking off the excess. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Place two pieces of chicken in the pan and sear until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with another 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and the remaining chicken, transferring the chicken to a plate once browned.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook until it has softened a bit, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then cook until the liquid has reduced a little and the vegetables are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted.
Return the chicken with any accumulated juices to the pan nestling it into the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes, flipping the chicken at the midway point. Taste the sauce and add 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice and additional salt and pepper, if needed, depending on the acidity and seasoning of the jarred vegetables.
To serve, place a cup of the arugula onto each serving plate. Top each with a chicken breast, and spoon the warm sauce and vegetables on top.
Yield: 4 servings
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