Sunday 8 February 2015

Massaged Collard Greens and the Perfect Oven Baked Chicken Breast

I have a couple of great techniques to share with you that can combine to make a very healthy and delicious meal. A number of times on the blog I have made massaged kale salads, but I'd never tried to massage collard greens before. Massaging greens makes them wilt and soften slightly, making them more palatable. The process also causes the greens to lose a little liquid and most of their bitter flavour along with it. Since you're using no heat, all of the nutritional value remains intact. All you need are clean hands, a pinch of sea salt and a very little bit of olive oil. You can substitute fresh avocado for olive oil if you prefer. I made a salad this evening that was a combo of collard greens and purple kale. I used a bit of sea salt and oil and scrunched them up in my hands until they were soft and wilted. 

To the salad I added red and yellow bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, chickpeas and radishes. For a simple dressing I whisked together olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sherry vinegar, creamy mustard, a grated garlic clove and freshly ground black pepper until it was emulsified. You can use any dressing you like! Massaged kale or collard greens would make a very interesting Caesar Salad.  

I also rubbed some skinless, boneless chicken breasts with a premade Cajun spice mix that I've had for years. You can use whatever spices and seasonings you desire. I baked them in the oven. Some of you may have baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts before. If you're one of those people then you probably know that baked chicken breast can often be very dry. Chicken breasts are remarkably low in fat so there isn't much natural moisture to stand up against the dry heat of the oven. Since chicken isn't safe to eat unless it's cooked through, it's all too easy to cross that line into overcooked and dry. So what is the secret to perfectly cooked and moist chicken breasts in the oven?

A short cooking time at a very hot temperature. That's the key. Preheat your oven to 450 F/232 C. Spray or lightly brush your chicken breasts with oil and then season with whatever spices you like. Spray or lightly brush a baking tray with oil before adding the chicken breasts, evenly spaced apart. Bake for 10 minutes then flip the breasts and allow them to cook on the other side for 8-10 more minutes. The chicken is safe to eat when the juices run clear and an internal temperature of 165 F/74 C is reached. Let the chicken breasts rest for at least five minutes to ensure the meat retains the maximum amount of juices. I usually squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over roasted chicken breasts while they're resting to not only brighten up the flavour but to keep them moist while they rest. You won't believe how tender and juicy baked chicken breasts can be.

I hope you are able to use these helpful kitchen tricks soon. Cooking and eating healthy doesn't have to be boring or bland. Little techniques like this can really turn some incredible meals out of your kitchen.

Until next time,

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