In case you haven’t wandered into a CVS or Rite Aid lately, let me tell you: Cupid’s big day is upon us. (All the good cards have been gone for weeks, sorry.)
While I love a swanky dinner date as much as the next girl, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, my ideal night is actually a delicious dinner for two cooked at home. Most restaurants have Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menus that are supposed to make you feel like you’re experiencing “romance” and “love” when really you’re just choosing between salmon and steak and being rushed through your chocolate cake so the next couple can sit down and have their romantic evening. At home, you can relax, go at your own pace, make whatever you feel like eating, and really enjoy each other’s company.
But what to make? I’m thinking Grilled Chicken Paillard with Winter Green Salad. Inspired by a dish that I had with my valentine (hi Joe!) at an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, it’s simple and quick to make, but is still “fancy” and more importantly, delicious. The chicken is tender and well seasoned, and topped with a salad that’s bright, crunchy, and strikes the perfect balance between savory, sweet and bitter. You guessed it, this salad is a metaphor for love!
I love the way the plate looks with a grilled chicken breast peeking out under a mountain of greens, walnuts, grapes and blue cheese. It’s restaurant-style presentation that’s so easy to recreate at home. AND, it’s the sort of dinner that leaves you with enough room for a decadent chocolate dessert.
The only labor-intensive part of the recipe is pounding the chicken, which I do in a plastic bag to make cleanup easy. I discovered that while a meat mallet is technically the right the tool for the job, a bottle of wine works just as well.
Whether you’re planning on spending Tuesday night with that certain special someone, getting drinks with friends, or staying in and watching The Holiday, Valentine’s Day is – at the very least- a great excuse to celebrate the love in our lives with a delicious dinner and several large glasses of wine. And that, I think, is something we can never do too often.
Grilled Chicken Paillard with Winter Green Salad
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 ½ cups baby arugula, lightly packed (2 ounces)
- ½ small head radicchio, cored and sliced very thinly
- ½ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
- 2/3 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoonsDijon mustard
- 2/3 cup large-diced mild, creamy blue cheese, such as Blue D’Auvergne
- extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken breasts into a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Using a meat mallet, a rolling pin, or a wine bottle, pound the chicken breasts through the plastic until they are 1/2 inch thick. (This takes a few minutes – be careful not to pound so hard you tear the meat.)
- In a small measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour marinade into the bag with the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the arugula, radicchio, walnuts and grapes. In a small measuring cup (you can use the same one you used for the marinade) whisk together the sherry vinegar, mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the bag, pat dry with paper towels, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until there are dark grill marks on each side and the breasts are just cooked through. (Alternatively, you can cook the chicken in a large sauté pan: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and cook each breast for 3-5 minutes on each side, until evenly browned and cooked through.)
- Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to combine. Add the blue cheese and toss gently. To serve, place each chicken breast on a plate and top with a mound of salad. Serve immediately.