Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chicken and Quickly Roasted Asparagus served with Tahini Sauce

Have you noticed I've been on a bit of a kick with asparagus recently? It's due to a very good sale at the market two weekends in a row, so first I made Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and then Asparagus with Basil Pesto. The recipe today is one I found when I typed "chicken and asparagus" into Epicurious.com, and it's destined to become a favorite, no question.

I hope when see the photo you won't focus on my very apparent lack of skill at drizzling sauces and instead take my word on how completely delicious this tasted: roasted asparagus and lightly sauteed chicken, topped with a sauce of tahini, lemon, garlic and just a tiny touch of soy sauce. I can make it taste good, but I'd definitely love some tips on drizzling artfully if anyone has some!

I browned the chicken quickly, and then finished cooking it on top of the roasting asparagus, which made it nicely browned while keeping the chicken pieces moist inside.

The main ingredient in the sauce here is Tahini, also called Tahina, made of ground sesame seeds. It comes in two varieties: hulled and unhulled. (The unhulled type is reportedly very bitter, so my Tahini, which I got in St. Louis, must be the hulled type.) Wikipedia mentions a sauce similar to the one in this recipe, so it must be a traditional use of this interesting ingredient. Tahini is a common ingredient in hummus, baba ghanoush, and many sauces, and is used as a condiment on meat and vegetables in all parts of the middle east. It's relatively high in fat, with 8 grams of fat per tablespoon, but only one gram is saturated fat. It's readily available in middle eastern groceries and even most supermarkets, and it's also fairly easy to make your own.


Chicken and Quickly Roasted Asparagus served with Tahini Sauce
(Makes two generous or three smaller servings, can be easily doubled. Recipe originally from Epicurious.com, with ingredients and preparation method slightly adapted by Kalyn.)

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus, cut in 2 inch pieces
2 T olive oil (or less, depending on your pan)
small amount of salt and pepper, to season asparagus
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T 100% whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (I like Penzeys)
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
1/4 - 1/3 cup water
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar or Splenda (use Splenda for South Beach Diet)
1/2 tsp. garlic puree (also called ground garlic)
2 tsp. soy sauce

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450 F. Make sure asparagus is washed, then break one piece to see where the woody stalk starts. Cut each piece off at that point and discard ends, then cut asparagus on the diagonal in two inch pieces. Toss asparagus with small amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange on roasting pan.

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breast, then put chicken pieces one at a time inside heavy ziploc bag and pound lightly until chicken is an even 1/2 inch thick. (This won't take much pounding, you're pounding for even thickness, not super-thin chicken breasts.) Mix flour and poultry seasoning on a plate and very lightly dredge chicken in flour mixture on both sides.

Put asparagus into oven at the same time you start browning chicken. Heat 2-3 tsp. olive oil in heavy pan. Add chicken, and brown about 4 minutes on first side, until nicely brown, and 1-2 minutes on second side. Put chicken on top of roasting asparagus and let finish roasting, ten minutes total roasting time.

While chicken and asparagus finishes roasting, combine tahini, water, lemon juice, Splenda, garlic, and soy sauce. (I used the small bowl of my immersion blender to buzz this together, but you could use a food processor or blender.) Start with 1/4 cup water, then check the thickness and taste to see if you want to add a bit more water.

When asparagus and chicken are done, remove from oven. (Chicken should feel firm but not at all hard to the touch when pressed with your finger.) Serve chicken and asparagus with a small amount of sauce drizzled over, or if you're a drizzling failure like I am, the sauce can be served on the side.


South Beach Suggestions:
This is a dish for phase two or three of the South Beach Diet due to the flour. Tahini is high in fat, but you're not eating a lot of it, and it's mostly unsaturated fat. I ate this as an entire meal with a whole chicken breast and half the asparagus, but if you wanted a side dish this would be great with Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi or Lake Powell Spicy Rice. I think the sauce served here would taste great on lots of other vegetables, or even as a sauce for grilled tofu.


More Yummy Tahini Recipes (may not be South Beach friendly):
Hummus bi Tahini from Andrea's Recipe Box
Yogurt Tahini Sauce from SF Foodie
Falafel with Tahini Sauce (plus other recipes) from My Plate or Yours
Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad from 101 Cookbooks
Creamy Chickpea Soup from The Domestic Goddess
Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant Dip) from Simply Recipes
Armenian Tahini Bread from A Veggie Venturecounter customizable free hit

16 comments:

Lydia said...

It will be 4-6 weeks before we start buying our asparagus at Falls Creek Farm in Connecticut. What a wonderful experience; they sort into 5 sizes (by diameter), and you buy spears that were picked early on the morning of your visit. There is nothing better!

Asha said...

Looks delicious.I bought some Asparagus,was thinking what to do with these,got it!:))

Thank you for your advice about commenting,lot of them are using it to get in the blogs to comment now!

Kalyn said...

Lydia, that sounds so wonderful.

Asha, I think you'd like it if you like sesame flavor. I LOVE tahini. I'm glad the commenting suggestion is helping. I was so happy when I learned how to do it.

Anh said...

Kalyn, this does look great! The aparagus season is behind us now, which means aparagus is getting expensive. Must wait until next year to eat as much as possible! :)

Cate said...

Never would have thought of a tahini sauce with asparagus, but it sounds good.

Melting Wok said...

tahini is new to me, now that you described it, its good to know that its similarity with chinese sesame paste that we used for the traditional chinese sesame chicken..ah..more asparagus, lovely :)

sinkcar said...

A Drizzling tip - you know those red and yellow plastic squeeze bottles in which they serve ketchup and mustard in classic 'diners'? Get a couple of those and use them for drizzling sauces - you can adjust the size of the hole easily with a pair of scissors and have a container for thicker sauces and a separate one for thin sauces.
Bev C

Kalyn said...

Anh, yes you're on the opposite end of asparagus season, sorry!

Melting wok, I didn't realize it was similar to Chinese sesame paste, but I bet you are right.

BevC, Thank you for the great tip for drizzling, what a great idea. I'll get some of those for sure!

Andrea said...

This sounds really good, and I can't wait to get my hands on some yummy spring asparagus. Thanks for linking to my hummus recipe!

Katie said...

Okay, 3 favorites but I never thought about baking them together - great recipe!
And, (drum roll, please) I found the first asparagus of the year at the market today! Yippee!!!
It's not green (Green is very hard to find here) but violet, which is my next favorite. I can see some posts in the future...

Nupur said...

Soy sauce definitely adds a lovely flavor dimension to the tahini sauce! YAY for tahini :) Thanks for all the links, Kalyn. I'll be using my jar of tahini to make all those delicious recipes.

Kalyn said...

Andrea, your hummus looks great, and you're very welcome!

Katie, I am quite captivated by the idea of violet asparagus. Do blog about it, I've never seen it.

Nupur, I agree, Tahini is just delicious. I love your idea of adding a bit of cumin to the tahini sauce too.

Deborah Dowd said...

This has got to be a home run since I love chicken, asparagus and tahini! We are actually at the beginning of wild asparagus season, and are looking forward to lots of delicious stems!

astrid said...

seeing all our wonderful dishes with asparagus I might be tempted to overcome my aversion to aspargus and try one of them.

Helene said...

Well, I count the days till we get yummy fresh asparagus here, like lydia mentioned. There´s no halting then and day after day aparagus, till it´s finally over after six weeks. Thanks for the recipe Kalyn! :)

Zom G. said...

We made this for dinner tonight and our entire enjoyed it. So delicious! Thanks, Kalyn!

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