A colleague at work has just abandoned we cubicle rats for a month to vacation in the hot Italian sun. She has spent the past two weeks reminding others of this fact; and although I keenly do the same when it’s my turn to escape abroad, I’m no less aggrieved and envious when left behind. But why be jealous, really? Sure, Frommer’s says nice things about it; but Italy isn’t all Sistine chapels, olive-skinned supermodels, or linguine heavenly enough to make Julia Roberts swoon. And I’m sure that more people die on wobbly Vespas in Rome than of bee stings here in Canada. So there.
Ok, this isn’t working. I’m obviously in denial. Admittedly, Italy has been on my bucket list for a while, even if my mother tells me it was noisy, dirty and full of pigeons and creepy men who stare. That sounds pretty much like where I live now, or at least no worse. Give me the Vespas. Give me the green pastures, luscious grapes hanging heavily from the vine, warm bread dipped in olive oil, or an impassioned, heart-wrenching Italian aria. Heck, give me lice from sleeping on a dirty hammock, if it means getting to bask in the Mediterranean sun for even one afternoon.
Apparently I’m in need of a holiday and thankfully I have one approaching…though not to Italy. While waiting for my credit card travel points to slowly accumulate enough to cross an ocean, I’ll travel in the meantime by other means: Tonight I made this Italian-inspired dish with pan-roasted chicken, kalamata olives and roasted cherry tomatoes, I savoured a glass of red wine, and listed to Verdi’s La Forza Del Destino while yearning desperately for another continent.
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Preparation time: 5 minutes
1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, whole
15 kalamata olives, halved and pitted
3 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 boneless chicken breast halves (skin optional, though it tastes better with it on)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Mix together the tomatoes, olive halves, capers, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, lemon juice and wine in a medium bowl.
3. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet or frying pan on high heat. Once shimmering (about 1 minute), add the chicken (skin side down if you purchased chicken with skin on). Cook until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Flip the chicken, then add the tomato mixture to the frying pan and cook together for 3 minutes.
4. If using a heavy, oven proof skillet, place this in the oven, or transfer the contents of the frying pan to an oven proof dish, and cook until the chicken is cooked through or until the tomatoes have softened (about 16-18 minutes). Serve chicken with spooned mixture overtop.