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Weekday dinner inspiration: Four-Step Chicken Piccata and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Make Corkscrew Caprese Pasta by mixing 1 ½ pounds seeded and coarsely chopped plum tomatoes with 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into strips, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil and 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss with 1 pound hot, drained fusilli pasta. Garnish with ½ cup chopped basil. Green salad on the side.

Tues | Go-to technique

Once you get down the basic piccata recipe, you can use it for shellfish, chicken, veal and pork. Conquer the lemon-and-caper dish tonight with Four-Step Chicken Piccata (recipe below). Serve with sauteed squash sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

To make Chicken Chopped Salad, mix shredded chicken with chopped iceberg lettuce, drained and rinsed canned garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes, sliced scallions, shredded mozzarella and small cubes of salami in a wide, shallow bowl. Dress with a red wine vinaigrette and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crunchy bread sticks on the side.

Thurs | It's Greek to you

Greek Meatballs on Flatbread With Yogurt Cucumber Sauce brings a little "Opa!" to your weeknight meal. Make sauce first by mixing shredded cucumber with tangy Greek plain yogurt and chopped fresh mint (don't use dried). Season with coarse salt and let sit for about 15 minutes so flavors can meld. Thaw frozen meatballs and broil until heated through and a bit crispy. Heat flatbread in oven and layer on sauce, meatballs and thinly sliced red onions. Serve with orange wedges.

Fri | Fruit & fish

Cast-iron Salmon With Pineapple Glaze is an end-of-the-week splurge. Serve it with cooked rice mixed with sauteed asparagus pieces. Make a quick glaze in a saucepan by heating ½ cup pineapple juice, ½ cup water, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and two splashes of soy sauce. Heat through to dissolve sugar. To make the salmon, oil a cast-iron skillet and let it heat for 5 minutes in a 400-degree oven. While pan is heating, season salmon fillets with coarse salt and drizzle with glaze. Remove pan from oven carefully and place fillets on the hot surface, skin side down. Return to oven and cook about 5 minutes. Serve with more glaze if you'd like.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>EASY

Four-Step Chicken Piccata

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ pound white button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

¼ cup dry white wine

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breasts into 2 cutlets, or 3 if they are extra thick. Blot dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken through it, evenly coating the chicken on both sides. Place on a plate and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Set the chicken in the pan and cook on each side until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring often, until they are browned, about 5 minutes.

Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pan, using a wooden spoon or nonmetal spatula to stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the capers and then stir in the butter until it is melted and the sauce comes together. Turn off the heat and pour over the chicken before serving.

Serves 4.

Source: Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d'Arabian (Clarkson Potter, 2012)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Four-Step Chicken Piccata and more 08/07/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 4:30am]

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