Have I told you that I cannot stand the heat? And when I say I cannot stand it, I mean that when the first hot days appear, in early July I feel totally exhausted and recuperate early September when it starts to cool. Today the temperature in Athens is 40o C… As you understand my culinary activities, during this period, are limited to quick and easy dishes, without too many utensils. Exactly what I have planned for today’ recipe; easy, fast and impressively tasty amid its simplicity. Chicken fillet with fresh and sun dried tomato salsa with capers, thyme and garlic; full of Greek summer ingredients! 🙂
I baked the chicken in the grill pan, but it can be cooked in a simple non-stick pan, a gas barbecue or coals. I also give you instructions on how to obtain a crosshatch of grill marks. The sauce, which you can also name it a salad, is best to be prepared about 1 hour before serving, to let the flavors and aromas combine. I used colored tomatoes to make the plate more presentable. You of course, can use red cherry tomatoes or regular tomatoes cut into small pieces. The sun-dried tomatoes are those that often I make and I mentioned in the Quinoa salad with , Feta and Sundried Tomatoes. We accompany the chicken with garlic bread with whole grain bread.
Tomato is considered an excellent source of nutrients due to lycopene (phyto- intense antioxidant). Lycopene, apart from the characteristic red color that gives to the tomato, it has the capacity to destroy free radicals that damage the DNA of cells and lead to the development of chronic diseases. Recent studies link the substance to the protection against various cancers, especially that of prostate. According to surveys, most of the amount of lycopene intake comes from tomato products (e.g. tomato paste, tomato juice, pasta sauce).
➜ Lycopene contained in tomato juice is more easily absorbed by the body, compared to the lycopene found in whole tomatoes. This is because when a tomato is rubbed into a juice or pulp, largest amount of lycopene is released.
➜ Scientists also argue that lycopene is more easily absorbed by our body during cooking tomato with vegetable fats (e.g. olive oil, avocado), that’s why the tomato sauce is an ideal anti-cancer food.
In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are also an excellent source of other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin D (through concentration of carotenoids, including beta-carotene). All of these antioxidants circulate through the bloodstream neutralizing harmful free radicals which can damage cells and cell membranes, aggravating the inflammation and condition of diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma and cancer of the colon. A cup of tomato provides 57.3% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 22.4% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
Vitamin A (as beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body), improves vision and prevent vision problems such as night blindness and macular degeneration.
Tomatoes are a good source of potassium, and diet that is rich in potassium has been shown to lower high blood pressure and thus the risk of heart disease. A cup of tomato provides 11.4% of the recommended daily amount of potassium intake.
It is also a good source of fiber and chromium, which has been shown to help patients with diabetes to keep blood sugar levels under control. A cup of tomato provides 7.5% of the recommended daily amount of chromium.
Finally, vitamin K containing contributes to bone health, activating osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein, which is essential for binding of calcium from the bones. One cup of raw tomatoes provides 17.8% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K.
Chicken Fillets with Sun-Dried & Fresh Tomato Salsa
Preparation time: 20 minutes
- 2 large chicken fillets, cut transversely into 2 pieces each
- 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters, depending on their size
- 2 tablespoons (0.9 oz.) chopped sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed, drained)
- 1 tablespoon (0.4 oz.) capers, drained
- 1 medium clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped (and a few sprigs for garnish)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, freshly ground pepper
- In a bowl add the cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, balsamic vinegar, half the thyme, 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper and stir. Leave aside so the flavors and aromas combine, stirring occasionally.
- Brush the grill pan with the remaining olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Once warmed, place chicken fillets in the pan, sprinkle with the rest of the thyme and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Bake for about two minutes until you get the grill marks. Using tongs, turn fillets 90 degrees (to get a crosshatch of grill marks) and cook for another 2 minutes.
- With tongs, flip the fillets to cook on the other side, following the same procedure, but for less time, i.e. one minute each time.
- Transfer the fillets on the serving dishes and spoon with equal amounts of the tomato mixture. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Recipe adapted from the Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2004