The Nature of Love (Recipe: Pan-Grilled Chicken Breasts)

Watermarked Snow Magic Hour

Hello All:

Out for a walk today on this cold, snowy morning, I was thinking about the nature of love. It’s been a time of loss. Our elderly dog Rose died last week, then we got the news that a childhood friend of our son’s had died suddenly. My 89 year old mother has recovered from major surgery but remains frail and dependent. No miracle fountain-of-youth will restore her to a younger self, even for a  brief period. The pain of these losses is intensified by the deep love I feel for the dog who protected us for so many years, for the memories of my son’s childhood adventures with friends and for the love I feel toward my daughter while I take on the new role of caretaker to my mother.  The love I share most intensely is with my husband, Al. Never one to dwell on sadness too long, Al is a man filled with optimism. He has a core strength that infuses our family with the power to solve problems, to move forward together as we face whatever darkness we find in life. A man of many talents―his love and confidence give me courage. No matter what we face, we face it together. That is the true nature of love.

Watermarked Al and Dena
Watermarked Chicken with Yellow Vignette

This dish of Pan Grilled Chicken Breasts with Greens is one I created based on a dish I ate earlier this week in Boston. We went away for the day to ‘leave our troubles behind’, heading straight to our favorite trattoria on the North End. Elegant but simple to make, the meat is lightly seasoned with Italian spices then cooked quickly in hot, fruity olive oil. Topped with the cooled greens and paired with a chilled glass of white wine, this meal lightens the mood of any day.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.



Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon  Italian Spice Blend4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh micro-greens or 2 cups mesclun mix
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, slivered
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed, cut in half and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Trim the chicken breasts of any excess fat. Using a meat tenderizer, gently pound the meat to flatten slightly, taking care not to tear the meat. Sprinkle with Italian Spice Blend and a small amount of salt and pepper.
  2. Place a large,heavy skillet on the stove top set to high. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat the oil until it sizzles. Add the prepared chicken breasts. Brown the bottom side of the meat, then turn to brown the top. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the breasts are fully cooked through. This should take 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, place the greens, garlic, cherry tomatoes, remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently together. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. When the chicken breasts are finished cooking, place one breast on each of 4 dinner plates. Top with the greens mixture, dividing the salad evenly between the four plates.
  5. Serve and enjoy.