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Chicken Milanese on a bed of arugula and tomatoes

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Garden of Eating

(Read caption) Crusty chicken combines with juicy tomatoes and fresh arugula.

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It seems there's a fungus among us. I heard last week that the rumors of late blight in Hudson Valley, N.Y. have been confirmed. Keep your spores off my 'maters.

We've only been harvesting our little crop of tomatoes (some cherries and some big, juicy Ulster Germaids that we've grown from seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library) for a couple weeks now and they are so sweet and flavorful – I am hoping we can at least enjoy them for a few more weeks. That's my roundabout way of suggesting that you make this delicious meal now, since there may not be much of a future for tomatoes on the East Coast this summer.

This dish is inspired by a similar one I had at Cucina, an upscale Italian restaurant here in Woodstock, N.Y., that we really like.

Anyway, back to the recipe. This is a simple meal but so good. The chicken is crispy outside and tender inside with a nice crunchy, salty, cheesy crust that is enhanced by squeezing a little lemon juice over it. And the sweet, juicy tomatoes play nicely with the fresh, peppery bite of the arugula combined with a splash of olive oil and rich, sweet balsamic vinegar.

Although I am in no way above using prepared breadcrumbs, I was overtaken by feelings of guilt while staring at a Bread Alone baguette I'd unintentionally let go stale on the counter. So I made a small tub of breadcrumbs by food processing the bread to fine crumbs and then adding some grated Parmesan, sea salt and black pepper to make the breading mixture.

The process of breading and frying the chicken always takes a little more time and effort than I'd like, but on the whole this is a fairly easy meal to assemble. The chicken pieces are quite thin, so they cook quickly.

I made the salad with some arugula I picked out of our little container garden – I love being able to pick it while it's still young and tender and has not yet turned bitter or tough.

I topped it with some of our first fresh tomatoes and then drizzled some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a tiny bit of salt over it all.

Chicken Milanese On a Bed of Arugula & Tomatoes

Serves 4

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