Chicken Breasts with Black Olives, Lemon, and Fennel Recipe

The calendar may have now officially ushered in fall, but with the summer-like weather coming up this weekend, it will be perfect weather to hang out and grill. If you’re tired of the same recipes you’ve been firing up all summer, you can add a little Italian flair to the menu. The essential flavors of Italy’s Amalfi coast all come together in these garlic-rubbed chicken breasts that are topped with diced fennel, black olives, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil.

There are few places more beautiful than the towns that hug Italy’s Amalfi coast, notes chef and cookbook author Rozanne Gold, who contributed these recipes to Real Food. Picturesque towns—Positano, Sorrento, Capri, Maiori, and the village of Amalfi—stud the coastline of the Bay of Naples and share a cuisine that is predominantly Neapolitan. The food is lusty (olives, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, fleshy red peppers), vibrant (the largest and most flavorful lemons come from the region), and perfumed (wild fennel, fresh bay, oranges, peaches, apricots).

Here these flavors come together as an uncooked, room-temperature sauce gets spooned atop grilled chicken redolent of the lemon and garlic for which the region is so well known. Prep the dish several hours before grilling.

Serve with Little Potatoes and Sun-dried Tomatoes Al Cartoccio, fragrant with garlic and fresh thyme to round it out (recipe below).  Buon appetito!

Chicken Breasts with Black Olives, Lemon, and Fennel

Makes 6 servings

5 large cloves garlic
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 large lemon
1 tsp. coarse salt
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 8 oz. each
2⁄3 cup olive oil
1 c. (about 5 oz.) oil-cured black olives, pitted
1 fennel bulb with fronds
6 tbsp. slivered Italian parsley
large pinch hot pepper flakes

Using a large chef’s knife, finely mince 4 cloves garlic, rosemary, lemon peel, and salt together on a cutting board until it becomes a paste. Rub all over chicken. Let sit 2 hours.

Meanwhile, put oil in a large bowl. Roughly chop olives and add to bowl. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into bowl. Remove fronds from fennel and finely chop to get 3 tablespoons. Add to bowl. Finely dice fennel bulb to get 3⁄4 cup and add to bowl. Finely mince remaining garlic clove. Add to bowl with 3 tablespoons parsley and hot pepper flakes. Let sit 2 hours.

Grill chicken 3 to 4 minutes per side, until cooked through but still moist. Pour olive-fennel mixture over chicken and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Little Potatoes and Sun-dried Tomatoes Al Cartoccio
Photo by Terry Brennan

Little Potatoes and Sun-dried Tomatoes Al Cartoccio

Makes 6 servings

Use the smallest, thin-skinned yellow potatoes or fingerling potatoes for this dish. The potatoes are boiled until nearly tender and then transferred to foil packets—with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and fresh thyme—that get placed atop the grill. This method lets the potatoes steam and absorb the fragrant vapors.

11/2pounds tiny potatoes, unpeeled
6 tbsp. slivered sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
6 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
coarse salt
olive oil

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rapid boil. Add potatoes and boil 15 minutes until just tender. Drain well.

Cut 2 24-inch pieces foil. Evenly divide potatoes between packets, placing in center of foil. Scatter half of sun-dried tomatoes and a little oil over potatoes in each packet. Split thyme sprigs and garlic between packets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crimp edges of packets tightly to prevent leaks.

Place packets on grill and cook 15 minutes until potatoes are hot and steamed. Carefully open packets and transfer potatoes to a platter. Drizzle with oil, if desired, and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Nutrition information (per serving)
Chicken Breasts with Black Olives, Lemon & Fennel: Calories 550 (303 from fat); Fat 34g (Sat. 6g); Chol 141mg; Sodium 622mg; Carb 7g; Fiber 3g; Protein 52g
• Little Potatoes & Sun-dried Tomatoes Al Cartoccio: Calories 102 (9 from fat); Fat 1g (Sat. 0g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 297mg; Carb 22g; Fiber 3g; Protein 2g

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