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QUICK FIX

Lettuce Puttanesca

July 29, 1998|JANET McCRACKEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

I have three reasons for needing fast food (and not the sort that comes from drive-thrus). They are Joanna, Dylan and Claire--my three children, who have the kind of activity-filled schedules that often make cooking dinner a monumental challenge.

One of my favorite fast pasta sauces is puttanesca (I leave out the anchovies and red pepper for the kids). On hot summer nights, however, I serve the sauce over a salad, instead of pasta. I also add chicken to make my carnivorous son happy and to give the dish a little more substance.

All you need to complete the main course is a great loaf of bread. For dessert, some lemon sorbet with fresh raspberries is a refreshing finish.

McCracken is a former intern in The Times Test Kitchen.

MENU (30 MINUTES OR LESS)

Chicken Puttanesca Salad

Rustic Bread

Lemon Sorbet With Raspberries

CHICKEN PUTTANESCA SALAD

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips

Salt, pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped oregano

1 head lettuce of choice or 2 (6-ounce) bags salad greens

Arugula and spinach are good mixed with other greens in this salad.

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste (add salt carefully because olives and capers will add saltiness). Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot and smoky, add chicken and saute until cooked through and juices run clear when pricked with fork, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add tomatoes with juice to skillet. Add garlic and simmer 5 minutes. Add capers, olives and oregano and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add reserved chicken and toss to coat with sauce. Let sit 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam, until cooled slightly.

Put greens in large bowl and toss with chicken mixture. Serve immediately.

4 servings. Each serving:

329 calories; 889 mg sodium; 99 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 43 grams protein; 1.69 grams fiber.

INGREDIENTS

Shopping List

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 loaf rustic bread

1 bunch oregano

1 head lettuce of choice or 2 (6-ounce) bags salad greens

1 pint raspberries

1 pint lemon sorbet

Staples

Capers

Garlic

Kalamata olives

Olive oil

Pepper

Salt

Canned diced tomatoes

COUNTDOWN

30 minutes before: Slice chicken.

25 minutes before: Chop olives and mince garlic.

20 minutes before: Begin cooking chicken.

18 minutes before: Wash and dry salad greens.

14 minutes before: Remove chicken from skillet and add tomatoes and garlic.

9 minutes before: Add capers, olives and oregano to sauce.

7 minutes before: Remove sauce from heat and add chicken.

2 minutes before: Toss sauce with greens.

When ready for dessert: Spoon sorbet into bowls and top with raspberries.

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