This paleo chicken piccata is an easy, quick, and super flavorful weeknight dinner. Adding asparagus makes the already delicious combo of chicken, lemon, and capers even tastier and more nutritious.
Do you see those little green leaves gracing the top of this paleo chicken piccata? Can you guess what they are?
If you guessed parsley I can see why, but they’re actually carrot tops. Yup, as in the lengthy greens that sometimes come with a bunch of carrots, making the whole shebang almost impossible to fit into one of those little produce bags at the grocery store (I’m not the only one who has trouble with that, right?!).
I’m not a big fan of parsley. While it looks nice as a garnish, I often find its flavor too assertive, and sometimes I can barely taste whatever is underneath. So when I was at the grocery store yesterday and they were out of organic parsley, my eyes landed on a gorgeous bunch of organic rainbow carrots with their pristine, frilly greens still attached. I had no particular plan for the carrots, but I knew exactly what I’d do with the greens: chop them up and sprinkle them all over this dish. I actually just snipped them with kitchen shears, which was much easier than chopping, and their delicate flavor was perfect here. This paleo chicken piccata is so flavorful already from the capers, lemons, and ghee that it doesn’t need an assertive herb on top. (This garnish won’t use up all of your carrot tops, but you can use the rest to make carrot top-kale pesto! It’s amazing. Of course, you can also just use parsley here if you like it more than I do.)
That’s probably enough about the garnish, though–let’s talk about the paleo chicken piccata itself. This dish is so easy to make. Basically we’re pounding out chicken cutlets to make sure they’re nice and thin, dipping them in some seasoned tapioca flour, and pan-frying them in ghee and olive oil until they’re golden brown. Next we’re quickly steam-sautéing some asparagus in the same pan and making a quick sauce with chicken stock, lemon juice, capers, and a little more ghee or butter. That’s it, and dinner is served! I sometimes find chicken piccata too lemony, but the asparagus and ghee add some richer, earthier flavors here so that the balance of tart and savory tastes is just perfect.
If you want to round out the meal a little, white rice, cauliflower rice, or creamy mashed rutabaga would go great with the chicken and asparagus. You could also try making things a little saucier (just add more stock, plus a little extra salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste) and serving this over zucchini noodles or sweet potato spaghetti.
I highly recommend you add this one to your weeknight rotation!
Looking for ways to use up the rest of that jar of capers? Try the seared calamari with capers on page 180 of my cookbook Paleo Planet, or this pan-seared salmon with capers and baby artichokes. (Bonus: each of those can be made in 30 minutes, too!)
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1.25-1.5 pounds total)
- ⅓ cup tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch skinny asparagus, trimmed and halved crosswise
- ¾ cup chicken stock, divided
- Juice of 1 large lemon (about ⅓ cup), divided
- 3 tablespoons capers
- Handful of minced fresh carrot tops or parsley
- Lemon slices or wedges, for serving
- Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise so that you have six pieces. Use a meat mallet to pound the chicken out to about ¼ inch thick (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper).
- Preheat the oven to 225°F and place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. This is where you’ll keep the chicken warm in the oven later.
- Mix the tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper on a plate.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add one tablespoon of the ghee and the olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Dip each piece of chicken into the flour mixture to coat it on all sides, and then add as many pieces to the pan as will fit in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to the rack and put the baking sheet and rack in the oven. Repeat the dredging and frying process with the remaining chicken, adding a little more oil to the pan if it looks dry. Put the second batch of chicken on the baking sheet in the oven with the others.
- With the heat still on medium high, add the asparagus to the pan along with half the chicken stock and half the lemon juice. Stir with a spatula, scraping to dislodge any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and let the asparagus cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender but still crisp (or done to your liking). Use tongs or a slotted spatula to transfer the asparagus to a plate.
- Add the rest of the chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan along with the capers, and let the sauce bubble away for a few minutes. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of ghee or butter. Return the chicken and asparagus to the pan, remove from the heat, sprinkle with carrot tops or parsley, and serve hot with lemon slices.
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