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Spring Chicken Nicoise

I left the feta in big chunks so we could take as much or as little as we wanted.

Last evening we enjoyed our first al fresco meal of the year. This cool salad that I adapted from the Martha Stewart kitchens was an ideal outdoor Spring dinner. The ingredients cooked quickly in two batches in a steamer basket. Dinner was ready in less than a half hour with very little cleanup.

The recipe calls for steaming the potatoes and chicken together for 12 to 14 minutes. I found the timing to be right on. Since I used boneless skinless chicken tenders instead of full chicken breasts, they were cooked at the same time as the potatoes. The sugar snap peas took only 2 minutes longer. Be sure to run cold water over the peas in a colander to stop the cooking and retain their bright green color. Regular green beans or even asparagus would be a good substitute for the sugar snap peas if you can't find them.

I've given the ingredients for Martha's olive oil vinaigrette. It's lemony and delicious but if you're a Weight Watcher, it elevates the Points to 8. You can use a low- or nonfat vinaigrette to cut calories/Points, or you can simply use less of this recipe and squeeze extra lemon juice over the salad, which is a good idea no matter how you serve it. Bear in mind that we need a small amount of good fats like olive oil in our daily diets.

Here's to a healthy Spring and lots of al fresco dining.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz. each)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 sprigs fresh oregano plus 1 tsp. chopped oregano

12 oz. new potatoes, cut into 1-inch wedges

8 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed (2 cups)

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups torn mixed red- and green-leaf lettuces

Sliced feta cheese and Nicoise olives, for serving

Set a steamer basket in a wide pot containing 1-inch of water and bring to a boil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lay oregano leaves in bottom of basket; add chicken and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium, cover and steam until potatoes are fork-tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a plate; add sugar snap peas to basket. Cover and cook until peas are tender and chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate; run peas under cold water in a colander. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces.

Whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. water and olive oil. Stir in chopped oregano. season with salt and pepper. Arrange lettuces, potatoes, chicken and peas on a platter and lightly drizzle with dressing. Arrange on plates with cheese and olives. Drizzle with additional dressing and serve.

Serves 4

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