Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Salsa
Strawberry season has arrived. Finally.
Previously, I lived just north of Santa Maria on the Coast of Central California. When you drove down Highway 101 this time of year, the smells permeate and strawberry stands are all around. Typically, I would buy a large crate at a time, eat half and share half. I love combining strawberries with savory dishes and here is one of my classic dishes.
The Strawberry Salsa could technically go on top of simply prepared fish or chicken, but I love pairing it with this Pistachio Crusted Chicken. One little secret to this dish is just a touch of ground rosemary powder. It gives a pine-y earthiness that balances nicely with the sweet berry salsa. A hint o' mint & zest of lime, give not only a lovely contrasting color to the salsa but a harmony of flavor.
This is truly is a dish I cherish. We patiently wait until baskets of strawberries are everywhere and then we can finally enjoy it as often as we choose.
Start with the salsa so the flavors have a chance to meld and mingle.
Just toss together the following:
1 pound strawberries, clean, remove stems and chop small, into little salsa size bits
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
1 handful fresh mint (or basil), chopped up
1 lime, zest and juice
1 splash balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
The salsa is even better the next day, but will last up to a week if stored properly. Also, if your strawberries are not quite ripe enough add a pinch of sugar, honey, or agave until it is your desired sweetness.
Pistachio Crusted Chicken
If you do not have a blender/food processor available, chop the nuts by hand until fine.
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Cutlets (about 5-6 ounces each)
¾ cup pistachios, finely chopped up in a blender or food processor or mince up by hand
tiny pinch of salt (omit if nuts are salted)
½ tbls ground rosemary powder or dried rosemary, chopped fine
1 egg lightly beaten
olive oil in a spray can (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425. Prepare the chicken by pounding it to an even thickness. This can be achieved with a mallet, but if you do not have one a heavy frying pan will work. The chicken will still be fairly thick about ¾ inch or slightly more, the goal is to have it be an even thickness, not paper-thin.
Toss the pistachios on a plate with the salt and rosemary. Dip each breast into the beaten eggs and then lay on top of the nuts. Turn over and gently push the nuts into the chicken. Place the breasts on a baking sheet lined with foil/parchment paper and place in the fridge for 10-30 minutes. This will dry the nuts onto the chicken. If you don’t have time, feel free to skip this step.
Remove the chicken from the oven and gently spritz each side with the Olive Oil mister. This will give the nut-coating a bit more golden color when baked without the need to fry it. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn over the chicken, spritz again if desired and continue baking for 10 minutes. Check the chicken for done-ness by pressing gently on the center of the breast. It should basically be firm but not a rock when ready. If you are still not sure, cut it in the middle to see if it has cooked through and is no longer pink in the center.