Very Vert Lentils With Crispy Mustard Chicken

**Excerpted from One-Bowl Meals by Maria Zizka (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.**

very vert lentils with crispy mustard chicken Recipe

French green lentils base + crispy mustard chicken + spinach + watercress sauce

In this very green bowl, little French green lentils (sometimes called lentilles du Puy) are topped with leafy spinach and a vibrant sauce made from watercress. Crispy mustard chicken turns it into a meal. For a vegetarian alternative, swap out the chicken for Seven-Minute Eggs or sunny-side-up eggs.

Serves 2

Watercress Sauce

3 handfuls (about 3 ounces/85 g) of watercress (tender stems are okay to include, but no roots!)
½ small shallot, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1 cup (200 g) French green lentils
1 yellow onion, cut in half and peeled
Fine sea salt


Crispy Mustard Chicken
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup (40 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup (55 g) plain dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup (25 g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful (about 1 ounce/30 g) of baby spinach leaves


First, make the watercress sauce: In a blender, combine the watercress, shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Blend until the watercress is finely chopped and the sauce is mostly smooth.

In a medium saucepan, place the lentils and onion and add about 1 quart (1 liter) of water and a few generous pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the chicken in a plastic bag or between 2 sheets of parchment paper and use a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken to a little under ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Don’t be shy; this step requires a little muscle. In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and several grinds of pepper. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg and mix in the mustard. In a third shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and Parmigiano. Coat each chicken breast with the flour mixture, then dunk it in the mustard-egg mixture, and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere the crumbs to all sides of the chicken.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter and olive oil and swirl the skillet to evenly coat the surface. Add one chicken breast to the skillet and cook until browned on the first side, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the second side until cooked through, another 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the crispy chicken to a cutting board. Repeat with the other breast. You may need to add a little more oil to the skillet between batches.

When the lentils are done cooking, drain them and discard the onion. Return the lentils to their pot and stir in about half of the watercress sauce, saving the rest to serve alongside the finished bowl. Add the spinach leaves, stirring them in, and allow the residual heat from the lentils to wilt the spinach a little. Or, if you prefer, divide the lentils between 2 bowls and tuck the spinach leaves in among the lentils. Slice the crispy chicken and arrange on top of the lentils and spinach. Spoon on the remaining sauce or serve it on the side.

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