When summer days turn long and hot, the only “appliance” I’m willing to turn on is the barbecue. We rely heavily on cut-up watermelon, giant bowls of fresh blueberries, easy salads from whatever produce is on hand or picked from the garden, and a simple protein thrown on the grill for dinners on repeat.
And if I’m being honest, I’m trying to make a better effort at preparing more nutrient-dense meals. We’ve relied a little too heavily on processed snack foods the last couple of months. Now that our Valley is pumping out produce with local fresh fruits and vegetables readily available, it would be a crime not to take advantage.
I like to marinate chicken in a mixture of plain Greek yogurt, a little lemon, honey, paprika and dill for a fresh and simple marinade that leaves the chicken tender and bursting with flavor. Sometimes I use boneless thighs, but most often I use chicken breasts because that’s what I have on hand. I slice the breasts in half so they grill evenly and I don’t accidentally overcook them waiting for the thickest parts to cook all the way through.
I know, I know; chicken — especially chicken breasts — are the epitome of boring, but trust me on this one. The Greek yogurt holds the moisture in the meat while the lemon, garlic, paprika and dill give great flavor.
I typically make a big batch to use for dinner and store extras in the refrigerator for leftovers or reimagined meals later in the week. Often I’ll make a chicken salad or pasta salad with the extras. This is our go-to summer dinner when it’s too hot to cook and even the effort of thinking about a meal plan makes you start to sweat.
• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.
Greekish Marinated Chicken
4-6 chicken breasts (use however much meat is right for your family)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon grill or all-seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
In a large baking dish, combine Greek yogurt, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, paprika, dill and black pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Trim any excess fat from the chicken and slice in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with grill seasoning on both sides. Transfer chicken to marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours or up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to grill, remove chicken from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from the marinade and place on the grill. Cook chicken about 6 to 8 minutes per side or until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees. If your chicken is on the thicker side, you may need to grill both sides and then lower the heat on your grill to allow the chicken to continue to cook through.
When finished cooking, pull the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest on a plate for at least five to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.