Chicken Paillard with Arugula and Watermelon Salad

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chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-2You guys, I have a new assistant!! Her name is Sarah, and she is lovely.

Sarah came came onto the scene a few weeks ago, and having her around has been a total game changer. Her job description is still evolving, but for now, she mostly answers the phone and gets me out of things that I don’t want to do, like buy more beauty products from Barneys (even if there’s a free gift involved), change cable providers, and/or give all my money to various charities that somehow obtained my personal number.

Sarah is cool, calm and collected, and people don’t hassle her because she has no real decision-making power when it comes to my time and money. She simply takes detailed messages and assures callers that “Ms. Wolf will get in touch as soon as she possibly can.” (I am very busy and important.)

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-saladThe thing I most respect about Sarah is that she’s not afraid to say no or to be a little pushy if necessary. For example, my doctor’s office called last Wednesday to bump my appointment, and Sarah managed to prevent that from happening by sweet-talking the receptionist and (over)stating the urgency of my medical condition(s). I was impressed with her poise when she said, “I’m afraid waiting two weeks is just unacceptable. Ms. Wolf is very anxious to come in, and I really appreciate you making that happen.” You go, Glenn Coco Sarah!

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-3Several people have suggested that I take on an assistant or an intern in the past year, but honestly, I’ve been hesitant. First and foremost, I have a tendency to micromanage, and I was afraid I’d waste a ridiculous amount of time looking over my subordinate’s shoulder. I was also loathe to sort through applicants to find someone that I trusted/wanted to hang with on the reg, and I dreaded the idea of having to wear pants to work everyday.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about any of these things with Sarah because we’re on exactly the same wavelength and I trust her implicitly. She shares my passion for food, loves my roommate, thinks I’m always right, and giggles at all my jokes. She also happens to work 24/7 for FREE and never complains about it because…

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-4Sarah is ME. (If that wasn’t obvious and you were really excited to meet my kickass assistant, I’m so sorry.)

Before you write me off as totally batshit, let me explain. Last month a telemarketer called on my way to dinner. He was raising money for relief in Nepal, and even though I was late and Logan was waiting, I felt guilty hanging up on Nepal Bob and ended up talking to him for 15 minutes. Sadly, this type of thing happens a lot. I’m a total pussy when it comes to saying “no” on the phone (weirdly, I’m okay with it in person), and I end up wasting an embarrassing amount of time (and occasionally money) as a result.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-10So, when I picked up an unknown number a few weeks ago and the caller asked for Serena, I assumed it was a telemarketer and immediately said, “I’m sorry, she’s unavailable right now. May I take a message?” Admittedly, this felt a little odd, but it seemed like an excellent strategy for avoiding an unnecessarily long and unwanted convo, and I was thrilled by my own resourcefulness.

It ended up being my hairdresser who asked to have Serena call back to confirm her appointment. Not wanting to make a separate phone call (or admit to being a total weirdo by saying, “Hey, it’s actually Serena!”), I responded with, “Great, I can confirm that for her.” When she asked who I was, I said, “Serena’s assistant.” Then she asked my name, and for some reason I said, “Sarah.”

(In retrospect, I should have said Gwyneth. Or maybe D’Fwan. Hindsight is 20/20.)

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-5Anyhoo, I liked the idea of being my own assistant so much that I’ve decided I may as well carry on the charade when it comes to handling unknown numbers and particularly annoying emails. Crazy Unconventional maybe, but very efficient. Plus, in the time I save by having “Sarah” dodge a single unwanted call, I’m able to whip up a sassy desk lunch like this Chicken Pailard with Arugula and Watermelon Salad. Hallelujah!

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-7Like Sarah, this salad will simplify your life this summer, friends.

Sweet watermelon, peppery arugula and salty feta in a tangy lime-vinaigrette are a classically beautiful combo, but something straight up magical happens when you pile that goodness on top of juicy chicken paillard. The arugula wilts ever so slightly, the chicken soaks up some of the dressing, and each highly textured bite bursts with bright, fresh flavor. It’s seasonal salad perfection.

While I’ve been loving this salad for lunch lately, it’s an equally fabulous recipe for both busy weeknights (doable from start to finish in about 20 minutes!) and casual entertaining. In terms of the latter, I recommend serving it outdoors with grilled bread and plenty of rosé. Preferably while wearing something white and/or linen.

p.s. For those of you that have real life assistants (sweet), even the most culinarily challenged ones will be able to pull this off. Just saying…

Chicken Paillard with Arugula and Watermelon Salad: (Serves 2)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 lime, zested and juiced
½ teaspoon honey
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups cubed watermelon (I recommend 1-inch cubes, but you do you.)
2 thinly sliced chicken breasts/cutlets
5 ounces baby arugula
¼ medium red onion, very thinly sliced
2½ ounces feta, crumbled

Preparing your Chicken Paillard with Arugula and Watermelon Salad:

-In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime zest and juice, and honey. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-1-Place the cubed watermelon in a bowl. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to use.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-2-Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-3-Using a rolling pin/mallet/whatever heavy item you have on hand, pound the breasts to approximately ¼-inch thickness. You want these really thin, peeps, but please be careful not to tear them.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-4-Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-5-Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. When hot, pour in ½ tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add one of the chicken breasts to the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side until opaque throughout and lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate, add the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil, and cook the second breast.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-7-Toss the arugula and red onion with the remaining dressing.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-step-6-Add the marinated watermelon and toss again. Top each chicken breast with half the salad and sprinkle with feta cheese.

chicken-paillard-with-arugula-and-watermelon-salad-9Get all up in that summer awesomeness.


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