Recipe: Pomodoro Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad

chicken paillaird with pomodoro and arugula

This is what I like to call a total fake out dinner. Looks somewhat fancy, but in reality, took little time to make and packs a lot of flavor with just a few ingredients. The secret to this particular fake out? The paillard. Paillard is just a really fancy way to say “pound out a piece of meat until it’s really thin.” The bonus besides sounding fancy? Because your protein is so much thinner, it takes far, far less time to cook. Weeknight dinner jackpot!

For this recipe, I was feeling inspired by an item I saw on the Fig+Olive menu last week while lunching with Hitha, and decided to re-create my own version at home. Joe pitched in and helped me make the pomodoro mixture while I worked on the chicken (hint: if two of you are making this dinner, it’ll come together in 20 minutes, easily). Using herbs from our little terrace garden, I quickly breaded and fried chicken paillairds. Then, I topped it with fresh baby arugula, and the pomodoro. Dress it a little, and that’s literally it. Dinner is served — and it’s so, so good.

Joe is still doing some paleo challenge through his gym, so he asked for no breading (just an herb coating) and no garnish of parmesan at the end (writing this makes me sad). I’m happy to report that he still found the entire thing delicious…though having had a bite of his and a bite of mine, there’s something about breaded pan fried chicken that just works! Here’s how you make it: 

recipe for weeknight chicken paillard with tomato and arugula salad

Pomodoro Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad
Serves 2

For the pomodoro mixture:
2 vine tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup basil packed, cut into chiffonade (or little ribbons)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 or 2 chicken breasts, depending on how hungry you are and how big the breasts are (Joe and I each had our own)

For the breading:
1 extra large egg
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
zest of 1 lemon (save lemon for juice for salad)
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves removed and minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and minced
1 sprig oregano, leaves removed and minced
1/2 bunch of chives, minced
1/4 cup of basil packed, cleaned and finely chopped

For the salad:
2 cups baby arugula, cleaned and dried
Juice of 1 lemon (use the lemon you zested above)

— extra virgin olive oil
— kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
— wedge of parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil — a few (3-4) tablespoons should do it (it doesn’t have to be exact!). Stir gently, then set aside.

Place the chicken breast on a medium or large cutting board. Remove the chicken tenderloin, and set aside (you can either bread and cook them with this recipe, or save them for something else). Using the flat side of a meat mallet (I like this one or this one), pound out the chicken into paillards that are 1/2″ thick. When pounding chicken out like this, pay closer attention to the thicker part of the breast, and hammer down and out. Don’t hammer down as hard as you can — it’ll rip the meat. The chicken breast will increase in diameter significantly once you have pounded it out into a paillard. Set aside.

A quick note on paillarding: many recipes recommend you cut the chicken first before pounding, and also place it between parchment paper or plastic wrap. Cutting the chicken is a great option if you want a smaller meal (you can share 1 breast between 2 people); putting paper or plastic around the chicken is also helpful if you’re new to the technique. Check out this video or this slideshow to see two additional ways to make a chicken paillard!

Grab two shallow, medium sized bowls. You can also use shallow baking dishes too. In one bowl, combine the egg, water, and mustard, and whisk together with a fork to combine. Season with salt and pepper. In the separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, the lemon zest, and all the minced herbs. Season the bread crumb mixture well with salt and pepper.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, and add in enough olive oil so that the entire bottom of the pan is well coated. While the oil is heating, quickly dip one of the chicken paillards in the egg until it is well coated. Let the egg drain off so that it is not dripping heavily, then transfer it to the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle the crumb over the meat until it is well coated. Repeat with the second piece of chicken.

Add the chicken to the pan and hot oil, and brown on both sides until the breading is crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side. If your pan can fit it, you can fry both pieces of chicken at once; if not, you can do then one at a time, too. Use tongs to flip the meat over and fry the second side. If you are frying the meat separately, you may need to add in additional oil in between batches. Once cooked, remove each piece of meat to its own serving plate.

To finish the dish, mound 1 cup of the arugula on each piece of chicken. Spoon the tomato mixture (and any juices) over the greens and the chicken. Finally, drizzle a little lemon juice and olive oil over the entire thing. Season with a little salt and pepper, garnish with shavings of parmesan cheese, and serve.

Quick tip: if you have any leftover pomodoro, you can put this on grilled bread for tomato bruschetta!

{Images by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese}


  1. 9.30.13
    meg said:

    Yum! I do love a good arugula salad!

  2. 9.30.13

    Haha-our husbands are on the same diet, and it definitely makes cooking less fun! That looks outstanding, and it’s going on my menu this week (sans breading and parmesan…weeeeeep).

  3. 9.30.13

    This sounds so tasty and perfect for our busy weeknights. I’ll just have to convince Frank to help out on this one.

  4. 9.30.13

    Breaded chicken is my favorite! I love this recipe and definitely want to try it soon. I’m glad you made it so simple.

  5. 9.30.13
    Alyssa said:

    This looks delicious, Victoria! I haven’t made breaded chicken in a long time–I miss it!

  6. 9.30.13
    Susan said:

    Oh yum! I love pounded chicken, and I’ll definitely have to make this!

  7. 9.30.13
    Maddy said:

    I am definitely making this. It looks sooooo good – and anything that you can make sort of paleo is great in my book!

  8. 9.30.13
    Alexa said:

    Ah this sounds so good Victoria! Definitely bookmarking this for a yummy fall dinner soon!

  9. 9.30.13

    This looks absolutely delicious Victoria! I love the addition of the lemon zest and herbs to the bread crumb mixture. Can’t wait to give this a try! xoxo

  10. 9.30.13

    YUM! I just might have to make this for dinner tonight :)

  11. 10.5.13
    Kasia said:

    I love arugula and this recipe looks great. Fall definitely requires some tasty cooking!

  12. 3.18.14

    Just added this to my must try weeknight dinner list. Sounds delicious and so simple!

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