With one recipe attempt under your belt, Ascend is excited to get you testing out more of Chef Steve’s amazing recipes. We’re going to have plenty of variety with our recipes, so if you don’t love the protein or veggies in one dish, you can try another. We’ll be making pan-seared chicken breast with several different sides. Each component of this dish is easy, but it can get a little complicated to cook every element at the right time to make sure everything is still warm when you plate it.
Ready to get started with this month’s recipe? Check out a few words of wisdom for our chef, first.
Words from the Chef
“I hope everyone is doing well! How was the fish? Delicious, I’m sure. Great job to everyone who tried it. For those of you that didn’t like it or try it, maybe fish isn’t your thing and that’s fair enough. We’ll try to explore a lot of unique ingredients, so everyone has a chance to try something they love.
Keep in mind that once we get a few recipes under our belts, you can mix and match items to create your own dishes based on what you enjoy and what works for you. The sky’s the limit!
For our second recipe, we’ll be making something with familiar flavors that are pretty clear cut and easy to make.”
For this dish, we recommend using two pieces of chicken that weigh around 3.5 ounces. You can use as much or little as you want, depending on how many people are eating. You can even substitute tofu, and voila! You have a vegetarian dish.
Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Warm Salad & Wild Rice Pilaf
If you know these ingredients, you can feel free to change up the proteins, veggies, and spices to meet your preferences. Not as confident with this type of recipe? We’ll break everything down to help you feel like a master chef in no time!
- 1 Whole Butternut Squash (Peeled, Seeded, & Diced)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Thyme (OR 2 Teaspoons Dry Thyme)
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive Oil
Butternut squash is a great side veggie because it has a sweet profile and firm texture. It’s so versatile that you can add a variety of different spices to create several unique flavor profiles. This type of squash is popular because you can get your hands on it year-round.
- Start off by cutting both ends from the squash.
- Peel with a sharp peeler or, if you’re up to it, a small knife.
- Cut the squash in half where the bulb and neck meet.
- Cut the bulb in half and remove the seeds, just like a pumpkin.
- From there, you can cut the neck into ¼” slabs, then into ¼” sticks, and finally ¼” cubes.
- For the bulb, hold the squash firmly in one hand and cut each half into wedges, and then cut them into ¼” pieces.
- Toss the cubes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and perhaps a little fresh-chopped thyme.
- Place the squash on a lined baking pan and roast it at 350℉ for 30-40 minutes.
- You’ll know that they’re done because the edges will be soft and brown.
While the squash is in the oven, you can start cooking the warm salad, rice pilaf, chicken, and olive tapenade.
- 1 Packet of Wild Rice Mix
This is an easy one because you can just buy a blended mix. It’s going to be pre-portioned for your convenience, so make sure you’re getting enough for the whole family. If there are a lot of options at your local grocery store, we recommend choosing one without too many herbs and seasonings. You don’t want any other flavors competing with the other food you’re making.
Each rice mix and brand cooks a little bit differently, and you can find the cooking instructions on the box, but generally, it takes 20-30 minutes to prepare. We recommend starting this dish after the squash goes into the oven so it doesn’t sit too long and cool down.
Warm Spinach & Tomato Salad
- 1 pint of Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 bag of Baby Spinach
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese
- Salt & Pepper
- Start by rinsing and drying some cherry tomatoes.
- Have your baby spinach ready on standby (use a prewashed packet).
- Heat a sauté (frying) pan with a little olive oil.
- Add the tomatoes and roll them around in the pan over medium-high heat.
- As they heat, the juice will expand and cause the skins to split. When the skins begin to split, add the spinach a cup or two at a time.
- The spinach will soften at different rates, and you will get a multi-layered cook.
- Season with salt and pepper and gently toss with the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese over the spinach and tomatoes.
- Transfer to a separate container.
- Cover and set aside to keep warm.
There are a few things you want to keep in mind when cooking these vegetables. First, be mindful that spinach shrinks a lot when it’s wilted. Be ready to use a little more than you prepped if it looks like you have too little. You also want to make sure you keep rolling the tomatoes as they’re cooking so they don’t burn on any one side.
Pan-Seared Chicken Breast
- 1-2 Lbs. of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive Oil
We like to use skinless chicken breast for this recipe because you can get a nice sear. It’s also easier than having to clean the chicken and remove its skin.
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a pan with some olive oil until it’s good and hot. Not smoking hot, but close.
- Lay the chicken into the pan. Be careful, it’s going to sizzle and pop.
- After about four minutes, when the chicken is turning golden on one side, turn the chicken over with a set of tongs.
- Finish cooking the other side for another 4-6 minutes.
- When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan and put onto a plate.
Cooking the chicken should be the last thing you do before you start plating. There’s no point in cooking the chicken first and letting it get cold as you prep the sides!
- 1/4 Cup Olive Tapenade
We recommend buying your olive tapenade pre-made at the store. You’ll usually find it in the deli section.
If you want, you can make your own tapenade, but there’s already so much going on with this recipe, that you might end up with too much to do.
Putting It All Together
Now we’re ready to put things together. If we cooked everything properly and in order, things shouldn’t be sitting around too long and they’ll still be hot.
Start with an equal amount of rice and squash next to each other in the center of the plate. Place the chicken breast on top of the two sides. Spoon a portion of the spinach and tomatoes over the back of the chicken and then you can lightly sprinkle the olive tapenade around the outside of the main dish. Be as fancy as you can to impress your friends and family.
Ooohhh, pretty! Now, dig in!