Winter is upon us. But that doesn’t mean we still don’t crave the fresh flavors of spring and summer, right? I know you’re with me here, dear readers. And while I love a good soup, stew or braise just as much as the next person, it’s nice to put some light and fresh flavors on the table during the cold months to remind us that, although winter is just starting, spring isn’t really that far away.
Doug and I both battled the winter illness that’s been going around (as I’m sure you and yours have been, too), and we were getting sick of chicken noodle soup, homemade or no. We didn’t want to lose the chicken in our meals, so I decided to make us some refreshing herb-marinated chicken sandwiches, served with roasted fingerling potatoes and a zucchini-corn saute.
Since fresh herbs are something you can always find at the market—and I never seem to run out of them—they’re a great way to add zing to your everyday dishes without breaking the bank. This herb marinade is so incredibly simple: mixed fresh herbs, olive oil, and salt. You can use whatever herbs you have lying around the house or those still growing in pots by your back door, like mine. Let the chicken sit in the marinade for at least an hour for the best results and up to overnight.
I like to make a roasted garlic aioli (a fancy way of saying garlicky mayonnaise) to go with these sandwiches (recipe below), but you can always just use plain old mayonnaise mixed with a bit of garlic powder. Roasting garlic is incredibly easy; simply put the garlic still in its skin on a baking pan and roast until soft and tender. The roasting process makes the garlic smooth and spreadable and helps to mellow its pungent bite. It’s super yum, I promise. And it takes these chicken sandwiches from good to out-of-this-world great.
So go ahead, pretend like spring is just around the corner, and make your family some herb-marinated chicken sandwiches.
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Herb-Marinated Chicken Sandwiches
Chicken breasts from the supermarket are often quite large, so I like to cut them in half lengthwise. You can use four smaller chicken breasts instead of 2 large ones if you have them. Any combination of fresh herbs is delicious here. Use whatever you have available in your fridge. I like this sandwich with a roasted garlic aioli, but plain old mayonnaise would also work. Serves 4. Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.
½ c. assorted fresh chopped herbs (like tarragon, basil, parsley, cilantro, or oregano)
¼ c. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise so you have two flat halves
Salt and Pepper to taste
One lemon half
4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half
4 slices of baby Swiss cheese
1 tomato, sliced
1 c. baby spinach, for garnish
¼ c. roasted garlic aioli, recipe follows
1. Combine the herbs, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate on the counter for 1 hour, or marinate in the fridge up to overnight.
2. Preheat your oven broiler to toast the bread. Remove the breasts from the marinade, letting the excess oil run back into the bowl. Set the breasts aside on a cutting board, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts. (You do not need any oil because of the oil in the marinade). Cook the chicken breast halves until they’re nicely browned and cooked through. Squeeze the lemon half over the chicken before removing them from the pan. Set the chicken aside and cover to keep warm.
4. Arrange the sliced ciabatta rolls on a baking sheet, cut side up. Broil the rolls until they begin to brown around the edges, about 2 minutes.
5. Build the sandwiches: Spread some of the garlic aioli (or plain mayonnaise) on the top and bottom of each bun. Top with a chicken breast half, a slice of cheese, tomatoes and spinach. Cut sandwich in half and enjoy!
Roasted Garlic Aioli
2-3 cloves of garlic, in their skins
¼ c. mayonnaise
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Put garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Roast the cloves until the garlic is soft, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and let cool 3 minutes. Squeeze the softened garlic flesh into a food processor, discarding the skin. Add the mayonnaise, and process until it’s a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Move the aioli to a serving dish.