As soon as I saw this five-ingredient dinner submitted by a reader named Arielle, I knew exactly why it was a winner.
To begin with, look how hard each ingredient is working to earn its place. The lemon is on double-duty — offering both zest for the tapenade and juice for the spinach. The green olives immediately dispel any argument against a chicken breast dinner being flavorless, lending a maximum amount of bang-for-the-buck, flavor-wise. (“My husband, who says boneless skinless breasts are boring, actually likes this dinner,” says Arielle.) And by using the same grill pan to cook both the chicken and the spinach, she’s not only saving herself a big-ticket item to clean up, she’s taking advantage of any chicken bits and fat left in the pan to flavor the spinach.
Grilled Chicken Tapenade with Lemony Spinach
Here’s what Arielle does, in her words.
1.5 lb of thin cut boneless-skinless chicken breasts or any chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded very thin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper*
3-5 tablespoons olive oil*, plus more as needed
1 6-ounce can pitted green olives, drained (I use the these shown from Trader Joe’s; Castelvetrano olives would work, too, but would be stronger. Really any olive or any mix of olives would work)
1 clove garlic
2 6-ounce bags of spinach (I use Trader Joe’s bags of organic spinach, but only one fits on my grill pan at a time)
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, turning it with a fork to makes sure it’s coated. Heat your grill pan, and brush the pan with olive oil so it doesn’t stick. (You can absolutely do this on the real grill outside, but then you won’t get to use the chicken fat to flavor the spinach.)
While the grill pan is heating up, mash the olives with a fork in a bowl (or use a food processor but I’m all about fewer dishes for simple weeknight meals!). Zest the lemon and the garlic on microplane right into same bowl. Mix in the juice from 1/2 the lemon, another tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Once pan is hot, cook the chicken so you get good grill marks, two or three minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add the spinach to the grill pan (or half the spinach if you have to do in shifts) and mix around while it wilts down. Add salt and pepper and more olive oil if it’s sticking. Add a squeeze of lemon juice from the remaining lemon half. If there are little chicken-y bits on the pan mix those in, too. (Repeat with whatever spinach is remaining.)
Add a pile of spinach to each serving, then top with the chicken and tapenade.
* We aren’t counting olive oil, salt or pepper as ingredients in the five-ingredient series.
P.S. More five-ingredient dinners, including Alex’s 10-minute salmon sandwich.