Spurred on by the warmer weather this week – though hard to believe as a gale now echoes in my chimney and the skies look dismal and grey – I turned to one of my favourite summer dishes for a quick and healthy dinner. I came across this simple recipe in a book some years ago and I credit it for giving me my love of avocados. I hated the things for years but have slowly made the transition from guacamole to whole, raw avocados via this simple, summery salad.
The Parmesan-crusted chicken may not be healthiest version of chicken breast out there but hey – at least I grilled mine instead of pan frying it. The original recipe also called for egg white to make the crust but I include the whole egg. We are fortunate enough to get eggs for free from my partner’s parents’ chickens and it would be a shame to ditch the yellow-orange yolks just because a recipe said so.
Butterfly your chicken breasts and coat with beaten egg before dipping in a Parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper mix – the cayenne adds a wonderful kick of spice and brings many health benefits like being an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid to the table. Once prepared, cook under a medium-hot grill until golden brown on each side and the thoroughly cooked (but not dry!) in the middle.
To assemble the salad, slice two avocados and place in a pretty bowl – unless there’s just two of you at home but who says you shouldn’t eat off pretty things when you aren’t entertaining? – and chop plenty of cherry tomatoes in half and put in the bowl with the avocado. The tomatoes from supermarkets are a little bit disappointing in the winter but in the summer, with fresh, local tomatoes this dish is elevated to the next level. Next is the red onion. I’m not a great fan of raw onions but can manage them in the dish because I slice them very finely into long strands so that you can almost read a newspaper through them. Balanced with the avocado, they bring a little crunch to the salad. Drizzle your salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add fresh, torn basil before giving a good stir. Season to taste.
Serve your salad with the chicken and enjoy the thought of eating a nutritious, satisfying dinner with many health benefits. As you can see from the photo, I even added a couple of slices of grilled aubergine to mine.