Chicken breasts don't have to taste bland

Once there was a chicken in every pot. Now there's a boneless, skinless chicken breast in every skillet.

Economical, versatile and quick-cooking chicken breasts are often what's for dinner. They're a good source of lean protein, with less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol per ounce than beef, according to USDA's Nutrient Database.

The biggest complaint you hear about chicken breast is that it's sometimes a tad bland. But add a pepper saute and ginger-herb sauce and you have a tasty way to add flavor without a lot of extra fat.

Cooking tips: To pound a chicken breast, place smooth side down on a large sheet of plastic wrap, then cover with another sheet. Pound until the breast is the same thickness from end to end.

This tip comes from "The Joy of Cooking's All About Chicken," by Irma S. Rombauer, Ethan Becker and Marion Rombauer Becker: "With chicken breasts, the handsomest side goes into the pan first."

The pan and the fat must be hot enough that the chicken does not stick; at low heat, the chicken dries out. Do not crowd breasts, or they will steam rather than brown.

Serving tip: Swapping brown rice for white rice is a smart way to add whole grains to the meal.

Chicken and pepper saute with ginger-herb saucePrep: 20 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1 piece (1 inch long) ginger root, peeled

1/3 cup each: flat-leaf parsley leaves, fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon each: ground coriander, salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 Place ginger, parsley and mint in a food processor; process to chop. Add rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, honey, sesame oil and coriander. Process to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2 Pound chicken breasts until thin and even. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in large, nonstick skillet. Cook chicken over medium-high heat until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken to cutting board; let rest a few minutes.

3 Cook red pepper in the skillet, stirring often, until crisp-tender; 2-3 minutes. Transfer peppers to a medium bowl. Cut chicken into thin strips; add to peppers. Pour herb mixture over chicken and peppers; toss to coat. Serve over rice.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 326 calories, 28% calories from fat, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 66 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 29 g protein, 80 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

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