When I was a Sophomore in high school, my family went camping in Moab. When you're camping any sort of food tastes amazing but when the food actually is amazing and you're camping it just doubles in it's deliciousness. My mom made chicken parmesan and gnocchi out in the middle of the desert and it was fabulous. From then on, I've loved it and craved it on a regular basis, thus the meal earned the name "Caity's Favorite Dinner".
This recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's Parmesan Chicken, which is a lighter version of the classic Chicken Parmesan. She puts a salad of baby greens on top of the chicken rather than the common practice of dousing it in marinara which makes the nice light brown crust soggy. On the side is gnocchi and marinara sauce so if you so choose you may douse your chicken in marinara sauce and no one will know.
Also this recipe is nice and easy so don't get stressed out that you may have to make your own gnocchi or marinara sauce. If you can cut open a package and unscrew a lid then that part is easy! Since this is a recipe for the whole meal, I suggest reading it through once so you know where you're going and since a couple things will be happening at once (ex: cooking chicken and cooking gnocchi).
what you will need:
For the chicken:
3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced horizontally and pounded between 2 thick plastic bags until an even 1/4 " or so thickness) - see picture below
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1-1/4 cups (or more) Panko (aka Japanese dried breadcrumbs - they are much lighter and crispier in texture than regular breadcrumbs, but use what you can get)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 stick or so of unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
For the salad:
Tender salad greens, cleaned
2 tbsp. bottled capers
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the gnocchi:
Marinara sauce, homemade or store bought (I like Barilla brand)
For the chicken:
Pound the chicken breasts with either a meat mallet or rolling pin (a wine bottle works too when in a pinch) until an even thickness but not tearing into bits. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
In a small bowl or plate, beat the eggs with a little splash of water.
Combine the panko and the 1/2 cup parmesan cheese in a separate plate or bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.
While the pan is heating up, dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then dredge in the breadcrumbs, pushing crumbs lightly to the chicken to adhere.
Cook 2-3 pieces of chicken at a time (do not crowd the chicken pieces when pan-frying or they just steam rather than getting nice and crispy brown) on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through and nicely golden brown. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken.
For the salad:
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Toss together the salad greens with the capers and lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each chicken breast. Serve with extra parmesan cheese.
For the gnocchi with marinara:
In a medium sized pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add in gnocchi, stirring a bit. Bring water back to a boil and adjust heat to let it simmer gently. Stir occasionally so the gnocchi doesn't get stuck to the bottom and burn.