Half Hour Dash: Take It Outside

Summer is about dining al fresco, but when dinner seems to take ages to accomplish, who has the energy to enjoy the outdoors when dining? The answer is simple: make dinner in a dash. I'm not talking about a harried rush. I'm talking about simple meals that take about a half hour to make and give you time to enjoy your summer without feeling like takeout or delivery are your only options. This time around, I'm offering spicy chicken sandwiches:

The quick sauce could be replaced with something bottled you love or a different cherished recipe. It doesn't even need to be spicy — my family just happens to appreciate this particular rendition. As is often the case, this recipe is a guide more than a requirement. Try a soft kaiser roll instead of the pretzel bun included here. Use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand — or skip it. Have a nice ripe tomato? Slice that bad boy up and enjoy away! I love fresh greens on this sandwich, but you can opt for whatever floats your boat or decide some caramelized onions are more your speed on a given day. Just make sure you pound those chicken breasts to about half an inch thick or you'll be cooking them for what seems like ages.

I love making this a pub-style meal by serving the sandwiches alongside fresh salads (okay, maybe that's not entirely pub-style, but we love our greens!) and a mound of crispy onion rings. You could have french fries, potato salad, or even some kettle chips. Keep it casual and take it outside. That always seems to make everything taste even better!

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into 4 evenly-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp. Bangkok Blend or similarly spicy seasoning mix of your choice
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt (omit if your seasoning mix contains salt)
  • 3 T. ketchup
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. packed fresh greens (I used pea vines)
  • 4 pretzel rolls, cut in half

Prepare the chicken breasts as described above and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the spicy seasoning mix, salt (if not included in your choice of mix), and ketchup; mix well to combine.

Spray a nonstick skillet with the cooking spray and brown the chicken pieces over medium-high heat; this should take about 8 minutes per side. When about 5 minutes of cooking time remain, brush the chicken generously with the spicy ketchup mixture and make sure the chicken gets a bit of cooking time on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

To assemble, divide cheese and greens evenly on the pretzel rolls and add one seasoned piece of chicken to the bottom half each roll. Top with the other half of the rolls and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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