Chicken Breasts and Olive Tapenade
with sauteed asparagus
Flavorful tapenade and melted cheese turn simple chicken breasts into a very special weeknight dinner. Serve it up with asparagus before it's no longer in season. (Pescetarians - the vegetarian option uses cauliflower but you can also use fish. I'd skip the cheese in that case.)
Simple Sauteed Asparagus:
- Asparagus - 1 bunch , ends snapped off
- Cooking oil - 2 tsp
- Lemon - 1/2 , juice of
- Parmesan (optional) - 2 Tbsp , grated
Chicken Breasts with Tapenade:
- Chicken breasts - 1 1/2 lbs
- Homemade olive tapenade - 1/2 cup
- Cooking oil - 2 Tbsp
- Fontina cheese - 4 to 6 slices ((Swiss or mozzarella would also work))
- Thyme - 4 sprigs
- Chicken - Slice in half to make the breasts thinner. Season with salt and pepper and tenderize with a fork. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
- Tapenade - You should have made this for yesterday's meal. If you didn't, you can grab the directions here.
- Asparagus - Snap off ends (this is a great kid activity!). (Can be done up to 4 days ahead and then "planted" in water and covered with a plastic bag, just like these herbs)
- Preheat oven to 375F (191C) degrees.
- Preheat a skillet over high heat. Add cooking oil, and then add chicken to heated oil. Sear on both sides for 3 minutes.
- Layer cheese onto chicken and then divide and slather olive tapenade on top of cheese. Add any remaining sprigs of thyme. Cover with foil and then bake for 4 to 7 minutes or until chicken reaches 165F (74C) degrees.
- While chicken is cooking, heat a saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and then asparagus to heated oil with some salt. Saute for 5 to 8 minutes (depends on thickness of spears), until softened but crunchy. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If using parmesan, add it on while asparagus is hot, so it melts some.
- Enjoy the chicken warm with crunchy sauteed asparagus!