Low-Fat Chicken with Watercress Pesto

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 1h 10m

Serves 4


  • Chicken
  • 1 medium celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 large chicken breast halves on the bone, with skin
  • Pesto
  • 3 packed cups of stemmed watercress plus whole sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • Tabbouleh
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for general seasoning
  • 1 cup medium bulgur
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/3 -inch dice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced


FOR THE CHICKEN: In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the celery, carrot, onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken breasts to the pan skin side down. Place a plate directly on top of the chicken to keep it submerged. Reduce the heat to low and poach very gently for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool completely. Reserve

the broth for another use. (The chicken can be cooked up to 1 day ahead. Wrap

and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before


FOR THE PESTO: In a food processor, finely chop the watercress, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the motor running, add the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the salt and season with pepper.

FOR THE TABBOULEH: In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt and stir in the bulgur. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the bulgur and rinse well with cool water. Drain again.

In a large bowl, toss the bulgur with the tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Skin the chicken with a sharp knife and using the breastbone as your guide, cut off the meat. Thinly slice the chicken on the diagonal. Fan out the cucumber slices in a semicircle on 4 large plates. Spoon the tabbouleh in the center. Fan the chicken slices on the other side and top with the watercress pesto. Garnish with watercress sprigs and serve.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Food and Wine. All rights reserved.

RecID 2023

nutrition information per serving

519 calories; 14g total fat; 137mg cholesterol; 196mg sodium; 38g carbohydrates; 10g fiber; 61g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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