Anita Lo’s recipe for grilled chicken with banana pepper dip and crunchy fattoush is simple and easy for weeknights.

By Bridget Hallinan
July 27, 2020
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Grilled chicken is a great blank canvas, delicious whether you serve it simply dressed with a marinade or add it to a salad or sandwich. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy it, we’d recommend doing as Anita Lo does—pairing it with a homemade (and three-ingredient!) banana pepper dip. The dish comes from her 2018 cookbook Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One, which “celebrates the joy of cooking for one,” per the recipe headnote, and includes 101 recipes.

Photo by Tara Donne / Food Styling by Chris Lanier / Prop Styling by Raina Kattelson

“The banana pepper dip in this recipe is perhaps my favorite recipe that my partner’s mother Bonnie Attea makes,” Lo says. “It’s a three-ingredient wonder that makes a weeknight chicken breast exciting.”

Between the dip, the grilled chicken itself, and the accompanying fattoush that rounds out the meal, you’ll only need a handful of ingredients, including feta, lemon juice, banana peppers, grape tomatoes, a Persian cucumber, and of course, a chicken breast. It all comes together in under an hour, too, so you can easily whip it up on a weeknight.

Check out these key tips for pulling off the dish, compiled from Lo’s recipe and the Food & Wine Test Kitchen.

Start with Banana Peppers

Mild, tangy peppers like banana peppers (or Hungarian wax peppers) add gentle sweetness and heat to the feta dip. Cooking the banana peppers before adding them to the food processor helps soften them, and also heightens their flavor by lightly browning them. Lo also notes that they can “vary on the heat scale,” and recommends tasting them before mixing them in. (If you want more heat, you could always add a little cayenne pepper.)

Use a Block of Feta

Lo says that although you can use pre-crumbled feta in this dip, using a block results in a “richer, creamier texture.” This is because blocks of feta sit in brine, and therefore have more moisture. They crumble quickly and easily, too, so it won’t tack on too much time to your prep work.

Pick Your Texture

You can make this dip as chunky or as smooth as you like—it all depends on how long you let it process in the food processor. To get it thick and creamy, Lo recommends one to two minutes, but you can stop earlier if you want more chunks. There’s no need to worry about over-mixing, either. You’ll just end up with a more puréed dip.

Keep Carry-Over Cooking in Mind

Lo instructs you to take the chicken out of the grill pan once a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 155°F (about six to eight minutes per side). The meat has residual heat in it, and will continue to cook for a little while even after you’ve removed it from the pan. Lo recommends letting it rest for 10 minutes—you want the internal temperature to reach 165°F.

Don’t Forget to Rinse the Red Onions

Just like with this sugar snap pea salad, you’ll want to rinse the chopped red onion before adding it to the fattoush. It takes away some of the “bite” from the raw onion while still preserving flavor.

Make It Ahead

Want to save even more time the night you’re cooking? Make the banana pepper dip in advance. It can be prepared up to three days ahead of time—just cover it and store it in the fridge.

Save the Leftover Dip

You only need 1/4 cup of banana pepper dip for your plate, but luckily, the leftovers are incredibly easy to re-purpose. Lo says the dip can be served with pita crackers or crudités, and also works as a sandwich spread. (We’d recommend roasted sliced turkey or grilled vegetables.) This way, you can make the most of every creamy, delicious bite.

Order the Book: Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One, $18 (hardcover; list price $29) at amazon.com