Macadamia crusted chicken baked to perfection and topped with a flavorful, refreshing pineapple mint salsa.
This dish is just flirting with the idea that summer is right around the corner.
Doesn’t it make you want to escape to a tropical paradise and drink daiquiri’s out of coconuts and smear SPF 90 all over your face while listening to The Beach Boys in the background? Ugh, me too. Until reality knocks on my door and reminds me that I have a 9-5 job and student loans to pay. So let’s just bring the tropics to the dinner table for now, shall we? 😉Please tell you’re a macadamia nut fan. Between their creamy, rich taste and perfectly crunchy texture, they are truly the Cadillac of nuts in my book. I mean could you imagine macadamia NUT BUTTER?! Talk about dangerous. I would smear that liquid gold on every morsel of food possible.
Macadamia nuts are a tad pricier than most other nuts but I am going to argue that their taste and nutritional profile make them well worth it. Macadamias are actually among the highest fat-containing nuts, although a large percentage of this is in the form of monounsaturated fat (the same kind of heart-healthy fat found in avocados and olive oil). On the contrary, because of their high level of monounsaturated fat, they’re subsequently very low in polyunsaturated fat, Omega-6.
Most nuts and seeds are quite high in Omega-6 fat, which is fine in moderation, though the average American consumes more than the recommended amount which can actually promote inflammation and lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
So even though macadamias are more calorically dense and contain more fat than most other nuts, in moderation they can be an excellent source of nutrients to the body. I digress. Let’s talk about this delicious (and super simple!) salsa that I now want to have as a staple in my house. The sweet and savory thing is on point. The cool, refreshing mint complements every ingredient like a dream. It’s delicious on fish or chicken, in tacos or just scooped up with tortilla chips. It’s very light and nutritious and tastes incredibly fresh. The trick to getting breaded/crusted baked chicken crispy on both sides is to bake it on an oven-safe rack placed on top of a baking sheet. This way, both sides are evenly exposed to the heat and there’s no chance of the bottom getting mushy. It’s the best alternative to pan frying in terms of still achieving great texture and an optimal level of crisp.
Utilizing the broiler helps too 😉I served the chicken over cultivated wild rice (found at Trader Joe’s), mainly because I loved the contrast of colors and i’m a sucker for aesthetics. But it pairs well with just about anything – sweet potatoes, pasta, salad, grilled veggies, etc. Leftovers are fabulous tossed on top of a salad with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar or balsamic. That has been the name of my lunch game for two days now and i’m loving it!
This dish is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight, yet has the aesthetic appeal fit for all sorts of entertaining. It’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and packed with nutritious ingredients.
With more warm weather on the horizons, this dish definitely deserves a spot on your dinner table! 🙂
Macadamia Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Mint Salsa
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken cutlets (or breasts sliced thin)
- 1/2 cup salted macadamia nuts crushed
- 1 egg whisked
- **Pineapple Mint Salsa**
- 1 cup finely diced pineapple
- 3 tbsp diced red onion
- 1/2 bell pepper color of choice, finely diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place an oven-safe rack on top.
- Using a coffee grinder, food processor or magic bullet, lightly grind macadamia nuts. You could also just place them in a ziploc bag and use a mason jar to manually crush them. I recommend leaving the nuts still a little chunky. Pour into a bowl. Add whisked egg to a separate bowl.
- Dunk chicken cutlets into egg wash to fully coat, then place them in crushed nuts, evenly coating both sides. Place chicken on rack and place baking sheet in the oven for 23-25 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken. During the final 3 minutes, turn broiler to HIGH to allow the chicken to crisp up.
- While the chicken bakes, prepare salsa by combining all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit at room temperature until chicken is ready to serve.
- To assemble: transfer chicken to a plate and top with 2-3 tbsp of fresh salsa, Optional garnish: lime, fresh mint.
Baking time may vary depending on thickness of chicken