Skinless chicken breasts have become the new cottage cheese — the ubiquitous base upon which so many weight-loss diets are built.
But it still doesn't register well on the old excitement meter. I mean, how many times have you found yourself craving a naked, unseasoned hunk of chicken breast? I'd raise the white flag and order pizza if the road to lasting health looked like an endless parade of plain chicken breasts.
Take the advice of a guy who has gobbled his fair share of chicken: You don't abandon it altogether, but you do need to break up the monotony. It's time to add some perk to your poultry because a diet that's dull is a diet you won't stick to.
This chicken dish is anything but dull. For starters, I've used chicken thighs. Sure, they aren't as low in fat as breasts, but being skinless and by trimming all visible fat, they become fairly low in fat. The other bonus: Chicken thighs deliver a deeper, richer flavor than breast meat. Leaving the meat on the bone also adds flavor.
Plus, when bone-in, they are perfect for the grill and are hard to overcook because the dark meat remains moist.
Sometimes unlikely ingredients seem like strange bedfellows, but often they come together seamlessly to create something delicious. That's the case with these chicken thighs paired with fresh figs and rosemary. The combination might seem a little iffy, but trust me, it works and adds delicious fiber and flavor to the dish.
Figs are among the highest-fiber fruits you can eat. I grew up loving my grandmother's home-grown figs; she had both a black fig tree and a white one. When I'd arrive for a visit, she would start to pick them off the tree, gather the recently fallen ones off the ground and make a small basket with the leaves of the fig tree. She would be waiting for me at the end of her driveway. I'll never forget the image of her proudly holding her basket of figs for me.
So, if you're battling meal monotony, you've come to the right place.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 2 pieces (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
2 ripe fresh figs, cut lengthwise into quarters
8 cups loosely packed fresh arugula
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
In a large bowl, combine half each of the vinegar and rosemary. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or in refrigerator for up to 4 hours, turning chicken occasionally.
Place the onions in a large bowl and add remaining red-wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Mix and set aside for 15 minutes to 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-low. Place chicken thighs on grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely browned and cooked through, turning chicken halfway through grilling. Transfer chicken to a plate and sprinkle with the basil. Set aside.
Add the arugula, figs and remaining rosemary to onions and vinegar. Gently toss salad, then season with salt and the pepper. Divide salad between 4 serving plates. Place chicken-thigh halves around salad, then sprinkle salads with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 228 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated); 120 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 2 g fiber; 732 mg sodium.
Rocco DiSpirito is author of the "Now Eat This!" and "Now Eat This! Diet" cookbooks.