The first comment my co-worker made when sampling this dish last week was “Oh my god, this is amazing! Are these tomatoes from your garden?” I thanked her for the compliment, then sadly had to admit, that no, they were store bought tomatoes. It’s a bit of a sore subject for me this summer, as photos of tomato harvests come in from friends on Twitter and Facebook. We’re talking bushels of glorious red, ripe tomatoes, some coming from gardens a mere couple of blocks away. And yet here in my little back yard, for reasons I cannot explain, my tomatoes have been a total bust.
As you can see above, it hasn’t been all bad. I’m in basil and kale overload and those cabbages are looking pretty darned beautiful. Guess I’ll just have to accept the fail and move on, right? Which, I am MORE than happy to move on to this completely awesome dish that works with any kind of tomatoes, garden grown or not. I mean, just look at this glorious salad, made with just about everything I love on the planet:
If you’re thinking “To heck with the chicken, I just want this salad,” I can’t say I blame you. The flavors are so bright and complimentary. In fact if you tossed in some grilled bread, you’d have an almost perfect panzanella (making mental note to try that next time).
Of course, this versatile salad goes with just about anything that will be coming off your grill right now: shrimp, swordfish, flank steak, and yes, chicken! Speaking of that chicken, let me state for the record, that this spice rub is fun and unique and definitely worth a try:
It’s worth grilling a few extra breasts, then refrigerating them to use in a salad or a wrap the next day. And the salad (assuming there’s any leftover), will keep for a few days as well in the fridge. One of those “gift that keeps on giving” kind of meals I love making. Teen tested, co-worker tested and approved too! Now off to check out kale and cabbage recipes!
Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Olive Salad
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp crushed or finely chopped fennel seeds (see Note>)
1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or any type of fresh tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
2 TBS drained capers
2 TBS (or more to taste) torn fresh basil leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 TBS fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Combine ingredients for spice rub in a small bowl. Pat chicken breasts dry; drizzle both sides with a little of the vegetable oil and rub in. Sprinkle both sides with the spice rub and let stand about 10 minutes.
For the salad, combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl. Add additional lemon juice, olive oil, salt and/or pepper as desired.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Oil grate or spray with grill-grade non stick spray. Place chicken breasts on grill, smooth side down. Grill for about 4 minutes, or until grill marks have been achieved. Reduce heat to medium, then flip chicken over. Cover grill and continue cooking until chicken is just cooked through and juices run clear, about 5 additional minutes depending on thickness of breasts.
Transfer chicken to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve with salad.
Note> If you have not yet purchased a Mortar & Pestle , this recipe is the perfect excuse to add one to your kitchen! Perfect for grinding spices (like the fennel seeds), crushing garlic or even making pesto or guacamole (in the traditional way). Alternatively spices may be finely chopped by hand or in a coffee grinder that has been designated as a spice grinder.