It’s already hot here…and it’s only June 1. In all honesty, I’m really scared of August.
When summer hits and it’s crazy hot, I just don’t feel like eating anything heavy. I need crisp and cool. Salads are perfect, but my family would probably be pretty frustrated if I just served up salad for dinner every night of the week. I’ve found that there are a few salads I can bring to the table that the whole family enjoys, though, and this is one of them.
The kids love it for the chicken tenders, but they aren’t your average Kids Menu tenders. They are crusted in almonds, which results in a deliciously, toasty, crunchy crust…a more “mature” crust, if you will. They are grown-up friendly! I pair them with a quick and easy salad of sliced peaches and butter lettuce, along with a tangy, buttermilk dressing. It’s a perfect weeknight meal for summer. And, as we found out, also a great meal for a night when you intended on grilling, but a heavy summer downpour thwarts your plans. ~sigh~
I started by making the dressing. Don’t let the buttermilk and chives fool you. This isn’t a Ranch dressing. It’s more like a creamy vinaigrette, and since I used low-fat buttermilk and light sour cream, it was lighter than a lot of the creamy dressings you’ll find out there! That’s my kind of dressing!
I quickly whisked together the low-fat buttermilk, sour cream, white Balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil. You can find white Balsamic vinegar in the vinegar section of your grocery store. It’s a great vinegar to have on hand when you want that Balsamic vinegar flavor, but don’t want your dressing or sauce to darken, as it would with the regular stuff. For more information on white Balsamic vinegar, click here.)
Once the oil was whisked in, I stirred in some fresh, minced chives. Then, I popped it into the fridge to hang out for a while as I got my tenders and salad together.
As I mentioned, the crust for the tenders involves almonds. I added some sliced almonds and flour to my food processor and pulsed it just a few times to chop up the almonds a bit and mix them in with the flour.
I poured the flour mixture onto a plate, whisked together a couple of eggs in a bowl to dip the chicken in, and then salted and peppered my chicken tenders.
Once all of this was ready, I could start breading the chicken. I dipped each tender into the beaten egg, let the excess drip off, and then dredged them in the almond mixture. I pressed each tender into the almonds to make sure that they stuck for good, and then placed each piece of chicken on a baking rack where they hung out until I was ready to cook them up.
When it was time to cook them up, I put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet and let it heat up on the stove until it shimmered. As the oil was warming, I got out a cookie sheet, placed it in the oven and then turned the oven on to 200*. I needed to fry up the chicken in batches, and after they drained on some paper towels, I planned on placing them on that cookie sheet to keep them warm and crisp as I finished up.
The chicken cooks up quickly, just a couple of minutes per side. Keep an eye on your crust as you cook the chicken, I ended up turning mine a few times, just to keep the almonds from burning. Each batch of tenders takes about 4-5 minutes to cook through, but turn them every minute or two.
Once all of the chicken was cooked up, drained, and waiting in the warm oven, I got my salad together.
I tossed together some tender butter lettuce with a couple of sliced peaches (you can also use nectarines, but I’m in Georgia, so I’d have a guilty conscience if I chose otherwise).
When I was ready to serve up dinner, I tossed the salad with a bit of the dressing and loaded up each of our dinner plates. Then, I placed a few chicken tenders over the salad and drizzled the chicken and salad with a bit more of the dressing.
It was a perfect “keep everyone happy” summer meal!
ALMOND CRUSTED CHICKEN AND PEACH SALAD WITH BUTTERMILK-BALSAMIC DRESSING
Adapted from Fine Cooking: Summer Eats
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp. light sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. white Balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. freshly minced chives
- salt and pepper
- For the chicken:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 - 6 oz. bag sliced almonds (about 1¾ cups)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ lbs. chicken tenderloins
- vegetable oil, for frying
- For the salad:
- 6 cups torn, tender lettuce (butter lettuce) or arugula
- 2 medium ripe peaches or nectarines, halved, pitted, and sliced into thin slices.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and honey. Whisk in the oil, in a slow stream, to blend. Stir in the chives and season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use.
- Heat your oven to 200* and place an empty cookie sheet inside the oven.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a wide bowl. Place the almond slices and flour in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are chopped, but not fully ground. Transfer the almond mixture to a shallow plate, for dredging. Season the chicken tenders on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Dip one pieces of chicken at a time in the egg. Shake off the excess and then dredge the pieces in the almond mixture. Press the flour mixture onto the chicken to help it adhere. Set the breaded tenders on a wire rack.
- In a large skillet, heat 2-3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat. When it's shimmering hot, it's ready to work with. Working in batches, cook the chicken until light golden brown on both sides, turning often, and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Add a little more oil to the pan with each batch as necessary, and remove any large almonds that have fallen off of the chicken, from the oil. Drain the tenders on paper towels after cooking, and then place them on the warmed cookie sheet in the oven.
- In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and peach slices with about half of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Portion the salad out on your dinner plates and then arrange the chicken among the plates. Drizzle some of the remaining dressing over the chicken and serve.