Walnut crust adds flavorful crunch to chicken dish

It's easy to dress up boneless, skinless chicken thighs with this nutty walnut crust. It keeps them juicy and adds a flavorful crunch. The recipe also works with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. While the chicken bakes in the oven, the rigatoni and broccoli cook together on the stove.


- You can use pecans or macadamia nuts instead of walnuts.

- You can use any type of short cut pasta such as penne.


- To buy: 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1 bottle cayenne pepper, 1 small package broken walnuts, 1 container panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 pound rigatoni pasta and 1/2 pound broccoli florets.

- Staples: olive oil, egg, salt and black peppercorns.

Walnut-Crusted Chicken

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

1 egg lightly beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with foil. Remove visible fat from chicken, and pound until about 1/2-inch thick. This can be done with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a sturdy skillet. Mix salt, cayenne pepper, walnuts and panko breadcrumbs together on a plate. Place egg in a bowl, and lightly beat it with a fork. Dip chicken into the egg and then roll in the walnut mixture, making sure both sides are coated with the mixture. Place on the foil-lined tray. Place in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn chicken over. Return tray to the oven, and bake 5 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 388 calories (51% from fat), 22.1 grams fat (3.4 grams saturated, 7.4 grams monounsaturated), 203 milligrams cholesterol, 38.3 grams protein, 6.2 grams carbohydrates, 1.2 grams fiber, 514 milligrams sodium.

- Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

Broccoli Rigatoni

1/4 pound rigatoni pasta

1/2 pound broccoli florets (3 cups)

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook 5 minutes. Add broccoli, and continue to cook 5 minutes. Drain, leaving about 1/4 cup water in the pot. Add the olive oil to the saved cooking water. Return pasta and broccoli to pot, and toss to mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 283 calories (18% from fat), 5.8 grams fat (0.9 gram saturated, 2.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol,11.3 grams protein, 47.7 grams carbohydrates, 4.4 grams fiber, 32 milligrams sodium.

- Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, "The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook." Learn more at DinnerInMinutes.com.