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This July 21, 2014 photo shows grilled chicken paillard with peach and arugula salad in Concord, N.H. Chicken paillard serves as an alternative summer dish that is light, refreshing and substantial. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Recipe: Keep Labor Day healthy with grilled chicken salad
Healthy plate » At the base are skinny cuts of chicken, pounded thin, then grilled or sauteed.
First Published Aug 19 2014 06:10 pm • Last Updated Aug 19 2014 06:10 pm

Labor Day, summer’s last hurrah, is a feast day. And mostly — Tell the truth! — we tend to overdo it. Ribs, steaks, burgers and hot dogs? Check, check, check and check!

Allow me to propose an alternative — a dish that’s simultaneously light and refreshing and substantial: chicken paillard. Paillard is a French culinary term referring to a piece of meat pounded thin, then grilled or sauteed. In this case, we’re going to marinate and grill chicken breasts, then top them off with a peach and arugula salad glorified with a full-fat blue cheese dressing.

At a glance

Grilled Chicken Paillards with Peach and Arugula Salad

2 pounds chicken breasts, pounded 1/16-inch-thick

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

8 cups baby arugula

4 large peaches, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 ounces finely crumbled blue cheese

1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

In a large zip-close plastic bag, combine the chicken with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and several grindings of pepper. Mix, then chill for 1 hour.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Use an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to oil the grill grates.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess liquid drip off. Grill the chicken until it is just cooked, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the arugula and the peaches. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and blue cheese. Stir in enough water to achieve the desired consistency (about 1/3 cup), then season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and toss well.

To serve, arrange one of the paillards on each serving plate and top with salad and nuts.

Start to finish » 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings » 8

Nutrition information per serving » 370 calories; 200 calories from fat (54 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 32 g protein; 470 mg sodium.

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Whatever kind of breasts you start with, you’ll need to pound the cutlets to the desired thinness. And you’ll want to avoid shredding them in the process, which happens sometimes.

Here’s a little trick to avoid any shredding. Sprinkle both sides of the cutlet with cold water before putting it between two sheets of plastic wrap (or in a zip-close plastic bag). Then pound away, as planned, with a meat pounder or a rolling pin.

Next, it’s time to bathe the cutlets for an hour in a simple marinade of olive oil, lemon and garlic. Their thinness helps them to soak up the flavor fast. Grilling the cutlets takes almost no time at all, about 1 minute per side. Let them rest for 5 minutes and they’re good to go.

And the salad is a cinch — sliced fresh summer peaches and baby arugula tossed with a blue cheese dressing. Happily, a little bit of full-fat blue cheese goes a long way. In this recipe, 1 ounce serves four people. Indeed, it’s so rich that I’ve combined it with low-fat mayonnaise, Greek yogurt and a little bit of water to thin it out. Toasted walnuts provide the final touch.

See for yourself if this dish doesn’t allow you to kiss off the summer with abandon without knocking you to your knees in the process.




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