April 11, 2013 in Guest Posts
I’m so pleased to introduce you to Thousand Story Kitchen’s very first guest contributor, co-author of one of my new favorite things to do- er-read, FunThingsToDoWhileYou’reWaiting.com‘s Leigh Vandiver! Leigh and her best friend, Coralie have really put together an internet gem. I could seriously spend hours just reading around their blog on all sorts of DIYs, crafts, Pinspiration, sound advice on all sorts of topics, and my personal favorite, yummy recipes!! Leigh and I are second cousins and we get to see each other once a year at our family reunion, but I’m so excited that we both wound up starting blogs at the same time and have gotten to correspond with one another through the web and our blogs! She lives in Chicago and performed at Second City comedy club (I know, SO COOL, right!?) in addition to writing FTTDWYW. Enjoy her scrumptious post, friends!
Despite having the entire culinary world on the internet at our disposal, it’s funny how you rely on some recipes more than others. As much as I love experimenting in the kitchen, there are just some days when you want something quick, delicious, and reliable. A great recipe is all about taste. A REALLY GREAT recipe finds its way into the regular rotation by being a balance of convenience and taste. This, my friends, is a REALLY GREAT recipe. It is an Avocado and Chicken Salad with green onions, cilantro, lime juice, and the binder of your choice- tucked inside a crisp, toasted whole-wheat pita. Sounds amazing, right? Unless you aren’t a fan of cilantro (and a lot of people aren’t- like Feta cheese, it is kind of a divisionary taste), in which case, sorry kid… you may want to try somewhere else.
Not only is this dish super green and chock-full of fresh ingredients, but it is a complete meal in-and-of itself. This recipe has everything (protein, healthy fats, whole wheat, and so much green) and all in one neat, ready-to-go package. No need to worry about side dishes or salad dressings, here! We normally do this for dinner, but it would also make a great spring/summer lunch.
- 4 Whole wheat pitas
- 20 (or so) ounces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (Breast meat can be substituted, but the thighs are just so tender)
- 2 medium avocados- diced
- 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice
- ½ cup of chopped cilantro- fine or coarse depending on preference
- ¼ thinly-sliced green onions
- 2 tablespoons of binder- mayonnaise or olive oil
- salt (if brining, add no salt- if not then salt to taste)
- *optional- brine chicken thighs in brining solution for 35 mins. to an hour.
- Coat cooking pan with olive oil and place over high heat until oil is ready for a shallow fry. Place chicken in pan and lower heat to the lower end of the high scale. Cover pan with lid allowing the chicken to steam, as well. Cook chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until you see hints of brown. Flip thighs and continue cooking until other side has browned. Remove from heat and let rest. When cooled, dice chicken.
- Chop cilantro and green onions and place into a bowl along with the diced avocados. Add fresh lime juice, diced chicken, and the binder of your choice. Blend gently. Scoop into toasted whole wheat pita.
There is not a lot of complicated prep for this recipe- which is another reason it is so great. And although it is not necessary for this recipe, in my household, we’ve really gotten into brining lately. It really is amazing what a difference a small step can make. For chicken, we use a simple blend of the following for our brine:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup salt
- 1 quart water
You just mix your brining mixture, pour into a ziploc bag, add chicken, and wait 35 minutes to an hour. By brining, you are ensuring that your chicken is super tender and really flavorful. But, again… completely optional, if you are in a time crunch. Though, while I am brining, it normally gives me time to do the chopping, washing, and other sundry things that come up in the kitchen. At this time, I normally take out to thaw however many pitas I will need. I keep my pitas in the freezer. Is that weird?
You then coated a pan with olive oil and place over high heat until oil is ready for a shallow fry. A shallow fry isn’t a deep fry, you know what I mean. You use just enough oil to coat the surface, but enough to not cook away. Once oil and pan is hot enough (you can tell by placing the smallest, tiniest speck of pita into the oil- when it sizzles, its ready) place chicken in pan and lower heat to the lower end of the high scale. Cover pan with lid allowing the chicken to steam, as well as shallow fry. Cook chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until you see hints of brown on the bottom of the chicken. Flip thighs and continue cooking until other side has browned. Remove from heat and let rest. When cooled, dice chicken.
While chicken is cooling, chop cilantro and green onions. Dice avocados. I recently learned a trick about figuring out if your avocados are ripe, or not. Check it out. Apparently, if you remove the dried stem from the avocado, you can peek at the state of the avocado meat under it. Seriously, check out the link. Additionally, I wanted to take a second to talk about dealing with avocados. I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows and have picked up on some efficiency methods that I just assumed everyone knew… until I watched my boyfriend (who has ALSO been watching those same chef shows) butcher an avocado recently. If you are avocado savvy, you can skim… but if you aren’t, bare with me as I get into the minutiae of opening, pitting, and dicing an avocado. Insert knife and cut around the circumference until ends meet. Gently twist the two halves apart. Take the side that still has the pit and turn it on its side with the pit as far away from your hand as possible. Take your knife and firmly but carefully karate chop the knife INTO the pit- A Hiiiii-YAH, is especially helpful. Once knife is firmly, but not super deep, into the pit, gently twist and pit should come out easily. Instead of scooping out your avocado at this point, I dice mine IN it’s skin. Just take your knife and delicately dice your avocado. Then, when you scoop your avocado, it comes out already diced!
Once you get all your fresh ingredients prepped, and your chicken chopped, gently toss all ingredients with lime juice and the binder of your choice. I LOVE mayo… my boyfriend, sadly, does not… So, we make this dish with olive oil… which is cool, because we recently just made our OWN garlic roasted olive oil. So, I’ll live… I GUESS.
And that’s it! Scoop it into a toasted whole wheat pita and you are set! I’m sure it actually took you longer to read this than to make this recipe. I’ve been eating the leftovers while I’m typing this. Did I mention that because of the lime juice, the avocados stay green even in the leftovers? Is there anything this recipe CAN’T do?! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy. Let me know if you try it!