Capers, lemon, butter, and garlic come together for some serious flavor in this classic chicken dish.

This combo makes for a satisfying meal that tastes like you got it from the North End. I adapted some typical Chicken Picatta recipes to include much less butter and no cream, for a healthier rendition of your typical Italian meal.

I served the chicken over wilted spinach with a side of steamed brocollini, but the chicken would also be delicious served over rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, or other vegetables of choice!

Chicken Piccata over Wilted Spinach

Oh you fancy.

Time: 20 minutes or less

When to eat it: Lunch, dinner

Perks: Low carb, healthier alternative to heavier cream-based recipes

Sh*t You Need:

1 package of chicken tenders/breasts cut into smaller strips (easier to manage while cooking)
1 package of baby spinach, or deveined mature spinach
1 package of broccolini
1½ cups chicken broth
½ cup, plus 1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter, divided into 1 & 2 tbsp
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic
1 large lemon, juiced
6 slices Salt-Preserved Tunisian Lemons (from Trader Joes – optional)

Sharp knife
Cutting board
Large saucepan (or a small one, you will have to cook the chicken in batches)
Small saucepan for wilting spinach
Medium pot for steaming brocollini

The Recipe:

1. Begin to prep the vegetables. Chop the garlic finely, dice the Tunisian lemons, and juice the normal lemons. 

2. Put the brocollini on to steam (Usually easily done by: placing half an inch of water in a pan. Once boiling, adding the broccolini to the pan. Keep an eye on this as you prep the chicken and sauce, so that it remains its fresh green color and doesn’t turn that overcooked brown-green that means it will be mushy).

3. Prep the chicken. Salt and pepper the pieces on both sides, and then dredge through the ½ cup flour, shaking off any excess. They should be lightly coated, with a powder like film.

4. Heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a large skillet, until melted.

5. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet, cooking approximately 3 minutes on each side (until the chicken looks browned on both sides). Reduce the heat to medium to prevent the flour from charring.

6. Turn off the heat on the pan as you remove chicken from pan, placing the pieces on a plate (you can cover this with foil to keep warm/preserve juices, if you like).

7. Turn the heat back up to high, and sauté the garlic for one minute to release flavors. You might need to add a splash of olive oil in the pan here to prevent sticking.

8. Add the capers and the Tunisian lemons to the pan, stirring for 30 seconds.

9. Add the broth, and bring to a low broil. Cook to reduce, approximately 5-7 minutes. Once the volume of liquid has reduced significantly, stir in the remaining 1 tbsp of flour, whisking while heating to prevent clumps from forming.

10. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and stir to melt. Add the lemon juice and stir through.

11. Taste the sauce at this point- if using the Tunisian lemons, you probably don’t need salt. Otherwise, salt to taste.

13. Add chicken back to pan and toss/stir to coat chicken with sauce. Turn off heat and cover.

14. Now, wilt the spinach. In a small saucepan, add 2 tbsp of water and slowly add in the entire package of baby spinach, stirring as the leaves wilt. Try not to overcook the leaves! 
Note: I chose not to flavor these as the I poured the piccata sauce over the spinach too, but you could add salt, pepper, lemon juice, or more capers if you like.

15. Serve the chicken over a bed of wilted spinach, with brocollini on the side.


Recipe was contributed by Karin Lee (Northeastern University)

Check out these recipes, too: