Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast with Strawberry Salsa

Two flavors remind me of my days living in the southern region of the good ole' USA: pecans and strawberries. Both were abundantly available in the freshest way possible, and both remind me of "togetherness."

My best friend in Georgia lived on a lovely pecan plantation, and so racing on our pink Huffies to her house after school and stepping into her back yard to grab a snack right off the trees was a normal daily ritual. Her father would cook up some of the most scrumptious dishes with those pecans: pecan rolls for breakfast, pecans in your salad at lunch, and pecan crusted chicken or fresh caught catfish for dinner.

When Kristy came to my house, we painted our lips red and stained our fingers with all of the strawberries growing like weeds in my family's back yard garden. On the weekends, that garden was tended to with exceptional care and precision , my parents working side by side in waltz like unison. I would whip up lunches and fresh squeezed lemonade whilst they pruned the strawberry beds, snapped off green beans, and tidied the perfect ditches that surrounded the garden. The amazing red that came from a vine ripened strawberry presented a hard case for the divinity of nature, and made every dinner plate a festive experience for the eyes to feast on.

Later in life, when I moved to Germany, I was dismayed by the colorless, bland, less than romantic meals often found on German dinner tables. When late spring rolled around, by which point I was homesick beyond belief, I was thrilled to discover that Bonn turned into Strawberry olfactory heaven- the strong waft of strawberries from the many farmer's fields over taking the city. I ate baskets- neigh- bushels- of strawberries every day, and must say that I became a far more joyful person with some Strawberry color on my plate!

Strawberries and pecans... Always a source of happiness! It is with great pleasure that I bring these two healthy ingredients together for you to enjoy. The strawberries are loaded with anti-oxidents, and the pecans are a healthy person's dream food: also loaded with anti-oxidents, they are known to lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, and boost the immune system.

Enjoy a little bit if southern joy on your plate today ladies!
Love, Erin

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1-1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup plain dry wholewheat breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large eggwhite
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
Place pecans, breadcrumbs, spices in a food processor and pulse until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. Whisk egg white and water in a shallow dish until combined. Dip each chicken breast in the egg-white mixture, then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.

Place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Strawberry Salsa

15 strawberries, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 jalepeno or other spicy pepper finely diced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tblsp honey
Dash of ground red pepper and salt

Mix all ingredients together, If you have cilantro and fresh mint available, they add a lovely finishing taste to this zesty topping.

Spoon strawberry mix over chicken and you are all set for a yummy meal!

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