When it comes to meal preparation, I usually have a pretty clear idea what direction I want to go in. But every now and then, I get a little stuck, wanting to make two completely different things equally. Such was the case last Thursday. One part of me was in the mood for Chicken and Mushroom Crepes in White Wine and Thyme Sauce, while another part was cravng something slightly more Mediterranean, something with a little Greek flair and perhaps some roasted tomato sauce. I figured if I placed the various ingredints out on the counter, what I would make would simply just come to me. Out came a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh spinach, four hothouse tomatoes, oregano, black olives, feta cheese, green pepper, garlic, mushrooms and red onion. I could cube up the chicken, saute it with the other vegetables and perhaps serve it with a side Greek Salad, that might work, particularly given that we all love Greek Salad. There was only one small problem: I was still in the mood for crepes.
While almost every country has it's own version of the crepe, it was France's Brittany region where the tools and techniques for making crepes were perfected, elevating the crepe to an art form. Yes, crepes, in my mind, were decidedly French. However, while largely considered to be French cuisine, the future of the crepe is still wide open, constantly being re-imagined in kitchens around the world. Herein lies the beauty of cooking....you get to experiment with flavours and fusing cuisines. All of the ingredients lying on my counter were known companions - what was the worse that could happen? Hubby and our daughrter could decide they didn't like it? 'Don't like it, don' eat it....but I'm not cooking anything else', is pretty much my motto. Once again, I was completely prepared to go into that all too familiar area of cooking known as 'Nohing Venture/Nothing Gained Land'.
When my husband asked what I was making for dinner, I told him 'Mediterranean Chicken Crepes'. Do you know what that cheeky bugger said to me? 'You do know that crepes aren't Mediterranean right?'. My reply? 'Technically, no, I know. BUT, the south of France does border the Mediterranean AND the first Crepe Suzette was made by Henri Charpentier in 1895 while working at the Cafe de Paris in Monaco, which IS decdedly Mediterranean'. He surrendered, smart man that he is.
The trick to making successful crepes is whipping the batter up and then letting it refrigerate for an hour or so. Sometimes I just don't have the time to spare and no one's really complained about what's ended up on their plate, but when it comes to actually cooking them? My success rate is much higher with a chilled batter. I had the time to spare so I whisked together the ingredients for my crepes and placed the batter in the refrigerator for about an hour.
When considering how I was going to go about the crepe filling, I thought marinating the chicken would be a good idea, so that the flavours would really get into the meat. Rather than anguish over what I would use as a marinade, I decided to whisk up the same ingredients that I would for a Greek Salad Dressing: 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp dry oregano, 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/8 c. red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp freshy ground sea salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 c. of extra virgin olive oil. I cubed up the chicken breasts placed them in a zipper lock baggie, poured in the 'dressing', sealed the bag and placed it in the refrigerator next to the chilling crepe batter.
I was still hooked on the idea of making a roasted tomato sauce for my Mediterranean Chicken Crepes, so I cut the stems out of 4 medium sized tomatoes, massaged them with a little olive oil, seasoned with a little freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, and placed them in a nonstick baking dish. I placed the tomatoes into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven to roast for approximately 40 minutes. When the 40 minutes was up, I removed them from the oven and let them cool until I was ready for them.
When the one hour for the crepe batter was up, I removed it and the marinated chicken from the refrigerator. I placed the cubed chicken pieces onto a plate lined with paper towel, discarded the marinade and patted the chicken with some paper towel because if left too wet, the chicken piecces would steam cook before they seared well. I then went about making my crepes and the batter I made yielded 6 crepes, that I kept warm on a baking pan in the oven preheated at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. All that was left was to make my filling. (For recipe and instructions on how to make basic crepes, click HERE).
I sauteed the marinated chicken pieces on medium high heat and when they were nicely browned, I removed them from the pan and set them aside. My plan was to make a Roasted Tomato Sauce using all the flavourful brown bits from the sauteed chicken in the sauce, so I heated another nonstick skillet over medium high heat and sauteed the red onion, mushrooms, green pepper and sliced black olives, adding the cooked chicken back in when the vegetables were tender but the green pepper still had a little 'bite', or crunch. I lowered the heat under the skillet to medium and added in about a cup and a half of fresh spinach, letting it wilt sightly.
At this point I decided, what the heck, why not crumble in some feta cheese?
I moved the skillet with the chicken and vegetables onto a back burner on low heat to keep warm while I made the roasted tomato sauce. I heated the skillet I had used to sauteed the chicken over medium high heat and added in some sodium reduced chicken broth and brought that to a gentle boil, scraping up all the flavourful brown bits from the chicken. I then added in 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard and gave it a whisk. The roasted tomatoes were now cool enough to handle with my hands so after removing the skin, which I easily pushed off using my fingers, I placed the tomatoes into the pan with the chicken broth and mustard and used a potato masher to break down the tomatoes. I sprinkled the sauce with a pinch or two of dry oregano and let it simmer gently while I filled my crepes.
I placed a crepe on each plate, spooned in some of the chicken and vegetable filling and then spooned about a tablespoon of the roasted tomato sauce over the filling before rolling the crepes up.
I topped each crepe with a little more Roasted Tomato Sauce and crumbled some more feta cheese and served.
The chicken was moist and full of flavour from the garlic, oregano, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil. The vegetables still had a little crunch adding wonderful texture while the roasted tomato sauce was aromatic, warm and inviting, not to mention the perfect blend of sweet and savory and the crumbled feta cheese added a nice little saltiness to the whole dish. Outside of the refrigeration time, the crepes took about 10 minutes to make, the chicken and vegetables were also cooked within that time. Roasting the tomatoes took 40 minutes, another 10 for them to cool, but the sauce then only took about 5 minutes to pull together.
All in all, these Mediterranean Chicken Crepes were extremely easy to make. From the extra virgin oil to the boneless skinless chicken breasts to all those beautiful vegetables, they most definitely were also healthied-up. I estimate the cost per portion to be approximately $3.50 and, without a doubt, these Mediterranean Chicken Crepes delivered iin flavour, eliciting a two thumbs up rating from both my daughter and hubby!
Mediterranean Chicken Crepes with Roasted Tomato Sauce....easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!