By now you have figured out that I promote one meal for the whole family. I think there is a beautiful connectedness that comes from everyone sharing the same meal and sharing the same energy from that food. In addition, I believe that we help our children develop better eating habits when we expose them to a wide variety of foods during their lives and we encourage them to try new things. By giving in to the picky eater in the family and making him chicken tenders or buttered pasta every night because he won’t eat grown-up food, we are basically ensuring that he will grow up with only a taste for “kid cuisine” and the flavors associated with it. Not only that, who in the world has time to make more than one meal every night?
Mr. Picky is my 7-year-old and he is a challenge at mealtime even though I have done everything right. I am a great eater and I have set a good example for him (the most important thing.) I have exposed him to every vegetable and whole grain countless times. He has helped me prepare dozens of meals. We have gone shopping together at the supermarket and farmer’s markets. We have planted seeds and grown our own food. And he is still a total pain in the
ass neck and still quite picky, although he is slowly coming around. But I am not stressed out about it because Daughter #1 was the exact same way, even worse! Until one day something clicked and now she eats everything I eat from beet greens and bok choy to millet and muesli.
What does this have to do with chicken paillard and arugula salad when 99% of kids hate arugula? Of course they hate it. It is peppery and bitter and their tastebuds haven’t developed to the point that it tastes good to them. I didn’t like arugula when I was 7, but I am a maniac for it now. I even grow tons of it in my garden. So should I cater to the lowest common denominator in my family and prepare arugula-less meals? Heck no! I want arugula salads every now and then with a lemon vinaigrette and thinly pounded chicken breast. It’s one of my favorite quick-fix meals. But this is where I think flexibility should play a role. I will cut the chicken into strips and lay them on top of the arugula so that it is more appealing to my son and I allow him to eat just the chicken. He can look around the vegetable crisper and see if there’s something else that he would like, such as a raw carrot. In this way, I am not making him a whole different meal for him and the rest of us get to eat what we want.
No one likes everything, not even me. I very much dislike papaya, tarragon and poached or runny eggs. If you dislike arugula, feel free to substitute spinach or a crisp romaine. If you dislike chicken, you can add steak or chickpeas and shaved parmesan cheese. This is a great recipe to make for a crowd or for just one. The photo below shows a big platter I made when my cousin Joanna and her husband Anthony stopped by for dinner. I literally came home after they arrived at my house and whipped this together in front of them. The other finished photo at the top is my lunch yesterday when I was working at home testing recipes. As luck would have it, Mr. Picky came home for lunch and asked if I would share my chicken with him. My pleasure, as long as I get all the arugula for myself! One day he’ll be asking for that, too.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Juice of 1 lemon + 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 ounces arugula
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Place the chicken breasts one at a time in between to pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound to a ¼-inch thickness. You can use a meat mallet or a rolling pin. The idea is to get the chicken to an even thickness all around. Remove from the paper and place in a glass baking dish and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon on top. Drizzle with an equal amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
- Heat the grill to medium. In the meantime, prepare the salad dressing. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the inside of a medium bowl with the cut side of the garlic. Add the garlic to the bowl. To the bowl, add 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and black pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. Pour ½ cup olive oil into the bowl, whisking constantly to emulsify. Taste for seasoning and tartness. Add more oil if necessary.
- Remove chicken from marinade and grill a few minutes on both sides until golden brown. Place on a cutting board. Arrange the arugula on a platter and drizzle with enough of the dressing to coat lightly. Cut the chicken into strips and arrange on top of the arugula. Scatter tomatoes on top and drizzle a little more dressing. Or arrange the chicken on a platter and top with dressed arugula leaves and tomato.
Do ahead: you can make the dressing several days in advance and wash and dry your greens in advance, too. Just wrap them in a damp kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator.
I made this tonight and it was super delicious. Just want to ask, is the half cup of olive oil a typo or is it supposed to be that much olive oil? Seemed like a lot but it was still delicious!
Glad you enjoyed it! That ratio of acid to oil is my preference. It’s about 1:3. It does make more dressing than you probably need, but you can save it for another time. If you had too much dressing, you can reduce it to 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to 1/3 cup of olive oil. Or even further to 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to 3 Tablespoons oil.
Considering this for a dinner party. Can I hold the cooked chicken in a warm oven or reheat just before serving? I’d like to make it a little earlier before guests arrive. Thanks.
Here’s what I’m thinking. First of all, it’s delicious and everyone will love it! The chicken is pounded pretty thin so that it takes literally minutes to grill it. If you grill it and then let it sit too long in a warm oven (even barely warm), it may dry out. If you can preheat your grill and sneak away from your guests for a few minutes, I think it’s best grilled fresh. The arugula will even wilt slightly with the warm paillard — so good! If not, grill just before guests arrive and keep in warm (180 – 200 degree) oven covered until dinnertime. I’m assuming you’ll do an hour of cocktails? Should be fine. Wash and dry your greens a day or two ahead and make that simple lemon dressing a few days ahead, too. Have fun!
If I do the milanase version- what do you recommend as an egg replacement for dredging?
You can use buttermilk or yogurt with good results.
This has become my favorite dish. I love arugula with grilled chicken and the dressing tasted really good. It is such a quick and easy dish to make. I already made it three times!
It is a summer staple for me. Glad you enjoyed it!
Made this dish for dinner tonight and everyone loved it. The kids had the chicken without the arugula but that just left more arugula for me and Paul to enjoy! What a great summer dish! It was light, healthy, simple, and delicious! Thanks, Pamela!
Great to hear, Doreena! Thanks for the feedback.
Thanks, Pamela!! This was a great dinner and we loved watching you make it!! So quick and easy and it was fabulous!! Can’t wait to make it at home — along with your kale salad, which is our favorite! Would also love to make that watermelon salad you were telling me about! Post that one so I know what to do!!! Thanks again!! It was GREAT seeing you all!
So nice to see you both! I will definitely post the watermelon salad this summer.
Hi Pamela, I make the Milanese version with breaded and fried chicken cutlets but I tried your much healthier and easier way tonight and the kids gobbled it up minus the arugula but since they are only four and six your comments about Mr Picky give me hope! Thanks for a tasty update to my old standby.
P.S. I made it with the beans and mint salad – YUM!!
I grew up on the Milanese version, but I really prefer it this way. My 14-year-old and 12-year-old have just come around to arugula and it’s not something I ever pushed on them. Sounds like a very nice combo with the white bean salad!
Ask Teddi what time dinner is? We’ll be right over! Looks so delish and easy to do!!! Thanks!
So excited for this, making it tonight…