Thursday, August 13, 2015

Zorba Chicken (Greekish, and Paleo)

So, as usual it was about 30 minutes before supper time and I had no clue what we were going to eat. I had defrosted 4 grilled chicken breasts earlier in the day, but had no clue which direction I was going. Looking through the fridge I found a carton of mushrooms that had to be used right then, some tomatoes, spinach and a lemon that had seen better days. At first I thought about doing some Italian florentine dish, but then I remembered I am full on paleo now, so no cheese or pasta for me. The only other thing I could think of was to do some free style interpretative Greek type one pan dish. ('Cause I am lazy and hate to do a lot of dishes when I don't have to, plus it is too hot to use the oven.)

I have to admit I only called this dish Zorba chicken because I am listing to Greek music while I write this post and The Zorba Dance just finished playing.  This is not true Greek chicken, since, as a friend once told me, I can never cook a real Greek meal 'cause I'm not Greek.  So we are going to call this a Greekish meal.  I made this paleo but by serving it over rice or a pilaf it would be a meal more than fitting for regular eaters.

                                                                 Zorba Chicken

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2, 3, or 4 cloves garlic, minced (Come on, be brave, it's Greekish)
1 carton white mushrooms, sliced (not really Greekish but I had them and needed to use them)
3 medium tomatoes diced (I probably should have seeded them first)
1-1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley   (start with the smaller amount first)
1-1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano  (you will have to taste after adding the seasoning and adjust)
1/2-3/4 teaspoon dried mint        (use as much or little as you like)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
4 small boneless cooked chicken breasts, sliced (or just 2 cups of chopped chicken pieces)
1 16 ounce bag washed spinach
sliced olives for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid.  Wilt the onions, but don't brown them. (We don't want that lovely caramel flavor in this dish). Quickly add the minced garlic to the onions.  Stir constantly for about 35 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the mushrooms.  Stir them off heat, using the radiant heat in the pan to wilt them a bit. Add additional oil if necessary. Put the pan back on the heat and stir constantly until the mushrooms are soft.

Toss in the tomato pieces and stir, adding the seasonings and the lemon juice. (If you seeded the tomatoes you might need to add a little water or chicken broth, if you didn't you will get a bit of juice from the tomatoes themselves.  Stir in the chicken to warm it well and add the spinach bits at a time on top of everything.

This is when the lid becomes critical.  I put as much spinach as the pan will hold, smush (a technical cooking term for Greekish not Greek food) it down and add more spinach.  Pop the lid on until the first bit of spinach wilts by half, add more spinach and repeat the previous process. Check your pan and make sure there is enough liquid in it.  Add water or broth as needed.

Continue adding the spinach until all the spinach is well wilted. Mix everything together and serve over basmati rice (for normal people people who eat everything) or alone (for people who are geekish eat paleo meals).  Sprinkle olive slices on top of it.  If I had thought about it, I would have chopped a little fresh oregano and mint to sprinkle over the olives.  It would have been pretty, but as it was, it was simply delicious just not properly adorned.

Everyone really did like this, it took about 20 minutes from prep to serve (exclusive of cooking the chicken, because I always have cooked boneless chicken breasts in the freezer).  If you have to cook your chicken add another 15 or so minutes to your prep time. (Or slice it into thin slices and cook it in olive oil in the same pan you are going to use. ) If it is sliced thinly it should be cooked through in about 5 minutes.  Then just remove it from the pan and follow the directions as above, or go crazy and add or subtract anything you think you might like to it. (eggplant? green beans? squash?)

I do know for the meal's simplicity with a big flavor bang, we will have this a couple of more times before summers end.  Try it and maybe you will like it too.

For your viewing pleasure (Unless you are so young you have no blooming clue who Zorba the Greek is):

Καλή όρεξη! (Trusting that this actually means Bon appetit)


  1. Having cooked chicken breasts in the freezer is a good idea. Then you are always ready to fix some kind of Freakish, Greekish meal. :)

  2. When boneless breasts are a decent price, I stock up, grill them and vacuum seal them to freeze. I do the same with ground beef, brown with onion and garlic and vacuum seal. I can just about always grab something in the morning to thaw and have the beginnings of a meal. What I forget to check is what else is available to create said meal. Maybe Freakish/geekish is a better term for me.

  3. At my house you would have ended up with half raw-half burnt chicken if I just whipped something up.
    You still amaze me!!!!

  4. Don't be amazed, we all have things we are good doing and other things that we aren't. I actually took some pictures of my laundry room to post before and after the clean up, but it is beyond embarrassing so they are just hanging out on my phone taunting me. Suffice it to say, I am a good cook, but have little to no organizational skills..