Thursday, April 23, 2009

lemon basil chicken with white zucchini

Have you ever created a whole dinner around an herb? You know, something you came across by accident at the Farmer's Market or the grocery store? Well, that is how Lemon Basil Chicken with White Zucchini was born. I saw - then smelled - the lemon basil at the market, and HAD to make a dish with it. My goal was to make the recipe as lemony as possible and to find out how much flavor the herb could contribute - I was very happy with the resulting dinner!

If you are looking for lemon basil at the Farmer's Market, head for a stand that sells lots of greens. The stand where we buy salad mix usually has several different herbs, and the place where we found the lemon basil has lots of herbs, plus leeks, green onions, bok choy, cabbage, chard, lettuce, and a zillion different dark leafies. The white zucchini has been a springtime appearance at the Farmer's Market, and I've noticed that the same stand I buy it from also refers to it as "Mexican squash" sometimes. These are pretty small zucchini - one is about the length of my hand.

The mushroom broth I used was the liquid left from when I rehydrated some dried mushrooms. When you soak them in hot water, it not only brings your exotic mushrooms to life, it creates a flavorful broth that you can save in the refrigerator for a few days. You simply keep the liquid after straining out the mushrooms. I had some leftover from another recipe, and found it an ideal complement to the wine in this dish. You could rehydrate some dried mushrooms specifically for using in this dish (along with their broth), or you could go with an easy-to-find veggie or chicken broth.

We had this dish with a side of baked French-fry-style polenta (I should post that recipe sometime), but I think it would also be great with whole wheat Couscous. The wheat flour that coats the chicken sort of stops short of full-blown breading, but provides a nice texture, and it helps to thicken up the sauce a bit. While the white wine you use for this recipe shouldn't be overly sweet (aka, not a dessert wine like Reisling), you'll notice that when you pour the wine in the pan and add the lemon basil, it really smells like candy! I used this inexpensive blend from Pancake Cellars. There was enough leftover of this dish after Mike and I had it for dinner, so I took the rest to work for a delicious lunch.


3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
1 lb. chicken tenders (with fat trimmed off)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped brown mushrooms
3 small white zucchini, aka Mexican squash
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup mushroom broth (or a mild-tasting, low sodium veggie or chicken broth)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsps. chopped lemon basil
juice of another 1/2 lemon

1. Put the whole wheat flour, salt, and tarragon into a large plastic, seal-able bag. Squeeze a half of a lemon onto the chicken tenders, then place the chicken in the bag with the flour mixture. Seal and shake well to coat the chicken.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the floured chicken tenders and the garlic. Brown the chicken, but don't cook it all the way through (yet). Set the chicken aside on a separate plate and cover.

3. Leaving the traces of the chicken and flour, add the mushrooms and zucchini to the pan. Stir in the vinegar to flavor the vegetables and to help prevent the flour from sticking to the pan and burning.

4. Cook the vegetables for 3-4 minutes, then pour in the white wine and mushroom broth. Turn the heat up until the sauce bubbles. Stir frequently while the sauce reduces. During this process, add the lemon basil and enjoy the scent! After another few minutes, squeeze in the lemon juice, and finish reducing.

5. When the sauce has reduced to about 2/3 of its original volume, turn the heat back down to medium-low and add the chicken back to the pan. Cook until there is no more pink in the chicken. It should be nice and tender.

6. Serve with a whole grain side dish and some more of that white wine!

Zucchini on Foodista


  1. Hello Addie, loved that tip about saving the mushroom broth! This sounds like a wonderful dish.You really have a great blog going on in here!Hope you wont mind but I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks! -

  2. Ooh, I'll have to save my mushroom broth next time! Economical AND tasty.

    I've just started reading your blog--it has so many great recipe ideas!

  3. Hi thumbbook,

    Thanks so much for pointing me to Foodista - what a cool site!


  4. Welcome, Mimi - thanks for your comment!