Chicken With Romesco-Style Sauce: the lighter side of decadence

02/03/2014 4:53 PM

02/04/2014 9:47 PM

Editor’s note: This column was first published in 2006.

If you're trying to eat more healthfully or shed a few pounds, it’s easy to forget food is more than fuel.

Food is history, family, love and caring, too. Depriving yourself of flavors you enjoy is only likely to make you binge unless you can find balance. So keeping a slightly decadent dish in your repertoire to pull out for special occasions or a night of entertaining is actually a smart idea.

Regular readers will notice that The Star’s recipe for

Chicken With Romesco-Style Sauce

is higher in fat and calories than most dishes that appear in this column. Generally, we try to keep a dish between 20 percent and 35 percent fat. Still, our version cuts down on the amount of fat and calories found in traditional romesco recipes.

And, it tastes fabulous. Romesco is a classic sauce from the Catalonia region of Spain made of finely ground tomatoes, red bell peppers, garlic, toasted almonds, parsley and olive oil. All these ingredients are considered good nutritional choices, adding phytonutrients from the vegetables, “good” monounsaturated fats from the olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids from the almonds and loads of flavor.

The chicken in this dish is breaded with panko, a Japanese bread crumb that is lighter than the typical American-style bread crumb coatings. Combined with the low-fat buttermilk, panko creates a light, crunchy crust that envelopes the meat.

Chicken With Romesco-Style Sauce

Makes 4 servings

4 roma tomatoes 2 (1-inch thick) slices baguette, toasted 2 cloves garlic, cut in half 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 3/4 cup bottled roasted red peppers, drained 1/4 cup Italian parsley 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup low-fat buttermilk 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs or fresh baguette crumbs 4 (4- to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Preheat broiler. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on baking sheet. Broil 2 to 4 minutes until charred on one side. Turn and broil an additional 2 to 4 minutes until charred. Transfer to plate and allow to cool.

Place toasted bread, garlic, almonds and pepper flakes in work bowl of food processor. Pulse to form a paste. Peel and core tomatoes and add to food processor along with roasted red peppers, parsley and vinegar. Process and with the machine running add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Scrape bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to stand at room temperature while preparing chicken.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray over medium high heat. Place buttermilk in shallow pie plate and place panko crumbs in shallow pie plate. Pound chicken until 1/4-inch thick. Dip chicken in buttermilk, then in breadcrumbs; place in hot skillet and saute until browned; turn and brown other side and cook until fully cooked and meat thermometer registers 170 degrees.

Serve cooked chicken with romesco sauce.

Per serving: 468 calories (50 percent from fat), 26 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 67 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 34 grams protein, 228 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.


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