This is a simple, but tasty and nutritious meal in one pan. Quick to prepare, and easy on the clean-up duties. Most Tuscan chicken recipes call for heavy cream or half and half, which is fine, but I wanted to cut some of the calories, and retain the individual flavors of each ingredient. By baking the chicken instead of browning it first, I also reduced the amount of oil needed, and hence cut even more calories. This does not taste like a diet dish. It is worthy of a high class restaurant meal that you would pay handsomely for, but don’t have to because you are cooking it at home, and you control the ingredients.
Zucchini, a summer squash, are plentiful this time of year, and my local vegetable market had some organic beauties from a farm just down the road. I’d planned on using fresh spinach in this Tuscan Chicken and Vegetable dish, but these zucchini were calling my name. Choose firm zucchini without blemishes or punctured areas to get the freshest tasting squash. Smaller is better with this vegetable, as larger zucchini may be watery and tasteless. Store zucchini in paper bags in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. Storing them in plastic will increase the rate they go bad, and become mushy.
Organic locally grown zucchini
Zucchini are low in calories, carbohydrates and sugars, and loaded loaded with fiber and water, which are beneficial in weight control. They also contain significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, vitamins C, A, and K, and minerals, like potassium, manganese and omega-3. Zucchini are packed with cancer and inflammation fighting antioxidants. Besides which, they just taste good. You can’t go wrong here.
Fun Fact: Did you know that zucchini is considered a fruit in the botanical world?
I typically would use onion or shallots in a dish like this, but fennel was available, and it gives the dish a unique taste.
Organic locally grown zucchini
If you’ve never had fennel, you’re in for a treat. It’s been grown in the Mediterranean for thousands of years, and is used in many rustic Italian dishes. It’s a primary ingredient in Italian sausages. Fennel is essential to other cultural cuisines as well, including India and the Middle East, and is a key ingredient in Chinese five spice powder. All parts of the fennel plant are edible, including the flowers, although they are extremely difficult to find. The crunchy bulb and stems are similar in texture to celery, and can be sauteed, grilled, braised, and even eaten raw.
The frilly leaves are wonderful in salads and I used them along with rosemary leaves, to season the chicken and vegetables and intensify the flavors of this dish. It has a very mild anise flavor, which people either seem to love or hate. If it is not to your liking, just substitute shallots or an onion, or even several stalks of celery. When you bake it, fennel becomes more aromatic that strong flavored. If you caramelize it, however, fennel does take on a more potent licorice flavor.
Fun Fact: Fennel is a member of the carrot family.
Loaded with vitamin C, fennel also contains iron, fiber and potassium. Just one cup of fennel contains almost 18 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. The minerals and phytonutrients found in fennel combine to help prevent build-up of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and colon cancer. Fennel may also help to relieve abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. Chopped Mediterranean Vegetables
Of course, I had to use Old St Augustine Gourmet products in creating this recipe. Datil Zest Seasoning Blend and Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade contributed the sunny flavors of fruit with just a small kick of datil pepper. Datil Zest is a combination of Fresh from Florida Orange, Lemon and Lime along with the sweet heat of the unique St Augustine Datil Pepper.
Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade contains 6 fruits: Raisins, Orange Juice, White Grapefruit Juice, Mango, Key Lime, and Pineapple. It gives the chicken and vegetables a kick from the datil pepper, and a brightness from the fruit. You won’t miss the cream usually found in most Tuscan chicken recipes, as Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade brings out the unique individual flavors of each ingredient. Just like the Fountain of Youth, it will bring “new life” to your food. It has won 2 prestigious awards within the past year: Runner-up at both the World Hot Sauce Awards in New Iberia, Louisiana, and most recently Runner-up at the International Flavor Awards in Madison, Wisconsin.
Slice zucchini in half across the middle, then slice each half into wedges or sticks.
Cut long stems from fennel bulb and save for another dish or broth. Cut the bulb into wedges. Chop some of the frilly leaves finely to use as an herb in the last part of the dish.
Place all the vegetables in a baking dish and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, half of the minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the Datil Zest. Toss lightly to coat the vegetables in the oil and seasonings.
In a large bowl or ziploc bag, place the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of Datil Zest, 2 Tablespoons of Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade, the rest of the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Massage into chicken breasts.
Place chicken on top of vegetables and pour the remaining marinade mixture over the chicken and vegetables.
Bake covered for 20 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.
Remove dish from oven and uncover.
Stir the vegetables and spoon liquid over chicken. Sprinkle with the rosemary and fennel leaves.
Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked all the way through and the vegetables are tender.
Serve over brown rice or noodles if desired.
Serving Size 1 chicken breast and 1 cup vegetables
AMOUNT PER SERVING
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.7g
Saturated Fat 1.6g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4g
Total Carbohydrate 16.2g
Dietary Fiber 4.1g
These values are approximate, as the size of your chicken breasts and vegetables may vary.