Healthy Baked Lemon Chicken with a Super Green Spring Salad. It is a healthy and quick weeknight dinner bursting of Spring flavor! This healthy chicken recipe focuses on a fresh lemony flavor with all the veggies and a bunch of aromatic herbs that are in season now to create one happy salad.
Truth is, I am obsessed with lemon, and during fall and winter/Christmas time I don't feel it's that appropriate. Insert spring, and I'm bombarding you with lemon recipes.
Lemon is great for both sweet recipes, such as Lemon Ricotta Cake with Vanilla Pastry Cream, Lemon Cake with Crumb Topping, Crepes with Blackberries and Lemon Cream Cheese, The Penicillin Cocktail with lemon, ginger and honey. And savory recipes, such as this one, and this super umami and Easy Sun Dried Tomato Lemon Pasta and Strawberry Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. As I'm writing this, I am slowly realizing my love for lemon is pretty huge.
And I hope this healthy baked lemon chicken recipe will make anyone love lemon as much as me!
If you want a spring dish that does not have lemon in it, try this creamy spinach and peas pasta instead.
Baked Lemon Chicken Recipe
We should begin with the lemon marinade. This marinade also doubles as the sauce, so we will have to reserve about ⅓ for that. Using a pestle and mortar; crush rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix this herb garlic mixture with olive oil and lemon juice.
Pour ⅓ cup (80 ml) of the lemon herb marinade into a large bowl and add the chicken breasts in (reserve the rest of the sauce for later steps). Give it a good mix, cover with foil and leave in the refrigerator to marinate for 30-60 minutes. You may want to turn the chicken once halfway through marinating.
Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C) and bake in the oven for approx. 22-26 minutes. 22 for smaller breasts and closer to 26 for larger pieces. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it. Read more tips on how to oven bake chicken below.
How to: Baked Lemon Chicken
So there's the pretty, make more mess, way, and there's the not-so-pretty but easy clean-up way. Which would you prefer? This time I chose the not-so-pretty way, because I wanted it to be extra easy.
Baked chicken will naturally have a bland color. And it's not because it's not tasty, because it is. But it's just not seared in a pan beforehand. Searing in a pan will increase flavor even more, but it will add both time and clean-up to your schedule. Sear in a medium hot pan with a little oil, for a couple of minutes each side, and you will get a wonderful crust to your lemon chicken.
To make things super easy, I skipped this step and went straight to the baking part. Baking chicken breasts make them super juicy and tender and it actually is much easier than people think. Of course, it's easy to overcook chicken, as it is a very lean piece of meat. However, using these guidelines will help you reach perfectly baked chicken breast each time:
Tips for how to bake chicken breast perfectly each time
- If it's very big in one end, you should flatten it.
- Marinating the chicken will not only give better flavor, but it can sometimes also tenderize the meat, and who doesn't want a tender and juicy chicken? See above for the delicious lemon marinade.
- Cook at a fairly high temperature: 400F (200C). It should reach an internal temperature of 165F (74C), however, you should take it out a couple of degrees before. If you don't have a thermometer, don't worry, go for 22 minutes for smaller chicken breasts and closer to 26 for larger chicken breasts. If you press the thickest part of the chicken, it should feel something like when you press your thumb and pinky together.
- Rest - super important! Once you take the chicken breast out of your oven, do the thumb test (or check with a meat thermometer), and then let it rest for 5 minutes. This way the meat juices will re-distribute in the chicken breast and will result in a much juicier chicken! If you cut it immediately, the juices will run away and never come back.
Healthy Green Spring Salad
While the chicken is marinating and baking, we have lots of time to relax and just make the perfect green salad. There are no big rules to follow for this salad, I only opted for things that are in season during Spring. And that will also vary depending on where you live.
Cut each of the greens just the way you like it and roast pine nuts in a dry pan until fragrant. Read next paragraph for the edamame peas. Combine all the salad ingredients into a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon herb sauce. Garnish with lemon and more herbs, if desired.
How to peel edamame peas
Okay, so chances are you get frozen edamame peas. I don't think I've ever seen them fresh in the stores here in Norway, but if you do, then simply skip this step. Add them to a colander and run them under room temperature water for 2 minutes. Now they're thawed and you can easily just press them with your fingers and the peas pop out of their shells. Just discard the shells.
Optional Lemon Brussels Sprouts
So, this is just a way of upping that vegetable game even more. Brussels sprouts aren't only reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is actually super delicious with a fresh lemony flavor as well. Because we have time on our hands anyway when the chicken is marinating, why don't put the time to good use and make this awesome side dish.
I have used this Blackberry Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli and just altered it a tiny bit. The difference is actually just two small things:
- I didn't use blackberry balsamic glaze, normal balsamic glaze works really well.
- And I omitted the blackberries, because they weren't in season. If you find berries of any kind, feel free to use them anyway. You could also use pomegranate arils.
(Clicking photo takes you to the recipe)
Notice that the lemon garlic sauce is also the marinade from this recipe (just of course less). So make the lemon garlic sauce as in this recipe, and you will have enough for marinating the chicken, drizzling the green spring salad AND these lemon brussels sprouts.
How to Bake Lemon Brussels Sprouts
Cook bacon in a pan on medium high heat. Don’t cook through, just give them a little color. Save the bacon fat (important!). Remove outer shells of brussel sprouts and cut in half. Cut broccoli into florets about the same size/a little smaller as the halved brussel sprouts. Remove stem.
Place broccoli and brussel sprouts into a dish or baking tray, along with the bacon and bacon fat. Add in more fresh herbs and drizzle with 5 tablespoon of the lemon herb sauce. Stir to combine. Make sure all the veggies are coated but not drenched. Bake in the oven at 400C (200 F) for approx. 20 minutes. Until brussel sprouts are tender.
Mix balsamic glaze with a little honey and drizzle over the baked veggies. Adding fresh blackberries (like I did in this recipe), pomegranate arils or any berry is a nice, sweet touch, but it's completely optional.
This baked lemon chicken is juicy, tender, fresh and lemony and easy to make. All the green color from the green spring salad and fresh lemon brussels sprouts really makes this dish complete. Enjoy! For summer I highly recommend going for peaches instead, like this grilled peach and bacon salad!
And the next lemon based, savory recipes I am going to try are these Mexican Chicken Marinade from The Tortilla Channel, Chinese Lemon Chicken from Dinner at the Zoo, and this Greek Style Baked Cod from Easy Kraft Recipe. Can't wait!
More More Lemon!
- Easy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta (yes, with lemon!)
- Strawberry Arugula Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese and Crumb Topping
- Lemon Cake with Vanilla Pastry Cream
- The Penicillin Cocktail
- Crepes with Lemon Cream Cheese and Blackberry Jam
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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