Rush Hour

I could make a full meal out of appetizers! Whether it's tapas or dim sum, I find myself loving the strong and even aggressive flavors that get packed into appetizers from all corners of the world. So, this month, I thought I would share a recipe that was born out of my love for bruschetta -- in this case, a fresh tomato relish served over toasted bread. Since I adore those flavors on their own, I decided to increase the portion size and include chicken breast that's been kissed with heat and the flavors of Italy.

While there are three components to this dish, they come together quickly and you can have this meal on the table in about 20 minutes. While a panini grill makes the bread component easier, it can also be pressed using two heavy pans of dissimilar sizes. Just heat them both and use the one with the smaller diameter to press the bread slices into the one with the larger diameter. It's a touch tricky, but I learned this trick in college while trying to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich with limited resources.

This really is a meal in itself. If you want, you could add a light salad and a glass of wine to make it rather elegant. It's quick and easy, but highly appropriate for entertaining. A light ice cream or gelato could make dessert a snap too. Before you know it, August -- with its ripe tomatoes that blush in the summer heat -- might be your favorite month of the year!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

Chicken Bruschetta

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cured black olives, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 thick slices artisan sourdough bread
  • 2 T. butter

Combine the olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Add the chicken breasts and coat well with the mixture. If you have time, allow the chicken to soak on the seasoned oil for up to 24 hours. Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and sauté until cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Cut the tomatoes into a 1/4 inch dice. In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, garlic, olives and onion and toss together well. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil and basil. Add to the tomato mixture and toss together well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, heat 2 heavy pans or a panini grill to high heat. Spread the butter evenly over the sourdough bread and press firmly between the two pans (one set inside the other) or in the panini press. Cook until the bread is browned and crispy.

Remove the bread and arrange on serving plates. Arrange one chicken breast half over each slice and top with the tomato relish. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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