A sprightly lemon and caper piccata is the focal point of this light meal; a pair of grains, orzo and toasted barley pilaf, and some perfectly ripe sliced tomatoes fill out the plate. For dessert, there is a stylish confection of sliced apples braised in a caramelized sugar syrup, layered in parfait glasses with vanilla yogurt.
Piccata is the northern Italian term for a veal cutlet. For our piccata, we cut the fat -- and the expense -- by substituting turkey for veal, and were very pleased with the marriage of the flavors between the white breast meat and the piquant, lemony sauce with capers and parsley.
The cooking process could not be easier. The cutlets are lightly floured, then sauteed in the barest amount of olive oil; the sauce is made in 2 minutes in the same skillet. At the last moment, chopped lemon segments are stirred in to give the dish a fresh fullness. To save a little time in the evening, braise the apples and drain the yogurt earlier in the day, setting them both aside in the refrigerator. Then you can assemble the caramelized-apple parfaits at the last minute. This menu contains about 780 calories per serving, with 14 percent of the calories from fat.
Lemon and caper piccata
Using lemon segments pared of all membrane gives the sauce a sweetness and body that lemon juice alone would not achieve. Capers are the pickled flower buds of the caper bush; the berries are pickled seed pods.
1/3 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 turkey cutlets (about 1 pound), each cutlet sliced in half across the grain
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
12 caper berries for garnish (optional)
With a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from lemon and discard. Working over a bowl to catch juice, cut the lemon segments from their surrounding membranes. Chop segments coarsely and reserve with the juice.
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge cutlets in the flour mixture and pat off excess. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add cutlets to the skillet and cook until the outside is golden brown and the interior no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to a platter and keep warm. Add garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, for several seconds. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits.
Boil for 1 minute. Stir in the reserved lemon segments and juice, capers and sugar; cook for 30 seconds longer. Add butter and swirl the skillet until it has melted. Spoon sauce over the cutlets, sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Garnish with caper berries, if using.
Per serving: 220 calories, 27 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 383 milligrams sodium, 64 milligrams cholesterol.
Orzo-toasted barley pilaf
Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta. To add a little color and texture, the barley is lightly toasted beforehand.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, preferably canola oil
1 cup quick-cooking barley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups defatted reduced-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped chives or scallion greens
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat Add barley and saute until golden and toasted, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add orzo and thyme.
Stir once, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pilaf rest for 5 minutes to absorb any remaining liquid. Stir in chives or scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper before serving.
Per serving: 224 calories 8 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 44 grams carbohydrate, 7 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol.
Draining the yogurt for half an hour gives it enough body so it can be layered in a parfait glass with the cooked apples.
2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons butter
4 large baking apples, such as Rome, Golden Delicious or Cortland, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
Line a colander or sieve with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and set it over a bowl. Spoon in yogurt and let drain for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized heavy saucepan, stir together sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns deep amber, about 5 minutes. (Do not let the syrup burn.) Remove the pan from the heat, add butter and swirl the pan until the butter has melted. Add apples and lemon juice. Return to low heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and translucent and the juice has thickened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Spoon alternating layers of the caramelized apples and drained jTC yogurt into 4 parfait or wine glasses. Sprinkle walnuts over top, if desired.
Per serving: 311 calories, 6 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 71 grams carbohydrate, 92 milligrams sodium, 8 milligrams cholesterol