Dinner (and leftovers) out of one 3-ingredient marinade

A 3-ingredient marinade makes a meal...and more

So I did what I have been strictly avoiding for a very long time.  I cooked on live TV.  The thought of preparing something delicious in two to three minutes while chatting with the host and remembering to look at the camera–with no chance of a do-over–was, well, fear inducing!

When I got a call last month to do several live segments for Fox 43’s morning news program, I decided that I should take the advice I would logically give my kids…or anyone else for that matter.  Take a risk.  Break out of your comfort zone.  So I did.  And it went well!  (Funny side note:  When I got home, my younger son gleefully ran up to me and gave me a big hug.  He said, “Mom, you did great and you didn’t mess up!  (Pause)  I really thought you would mess up, but you didn’t!!”)

In order to give the viewers something that they might find appealing and could easily remember, I chose my favorite 3-ingredient marinade, which I have made countless times.  I demonstrated how it can be used in a variety of ways for both easy weeknight dinners and casual summer entertaining.  The utterly simple advance prep keeps you out of the kitchen yet, based on the taste, everyone will think you worked really hard.

Dinner (and leftovers) out of one 3-ingredient marinade
A good rule of thumb is to use 1/3 cup of marinade for each pound of protein when marinating in a zipper-top bag. A bag allows the liquid to flow freely around the food; if using a bowl, a larger quantity of marinade may be required to evenly coat. Feel free to adjust the quantities based on the amount of chicken, beef, seafood, or pork being grilled--this marinade is delicious on almost any protein.
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  1. Up to 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or cuts of choice; see comments above)
For the marinade
  1. 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  2. 1/3 cup olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup soy sauce (low-sodium and/or gluten-free as needed)
  4. Optional: 1 tablespoon sesame oil (I use this when grilling salmon or tuna)
  5. Other options: asparagus, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, onions, scallions, bell peppers, or other veggies of choice for grilling *plus additional marinade*
  1. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients. For added ease, you may do this right in a resealable bag. (Place it in a bowl or a baking sheet with sides so it doesn't spill out.)
  2. Prior to grilling, allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least several hours and up to all day. Seafood and vegetables are best soaked for at least 20-30 minutes but not more than two hours. When grilling vegetables, too, marinate in a separate bag. Flipping the bag from time to time will redistribute the liquid throughout the items being marinated.
  3. When ready to eat, allow the chicken to sit at room temperature as the grill is preheating. Drain and discard the marinade, and then grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Total cooking time will vary based on size of chicken breast. Remove to a platter and allow the chicken to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  4. When grilling vegetables, cook for just long enough for grill marks to appear and the veggies to become crisp-tender. I like to slice zucchini lengthwise in thick slices instead of rounds, which are more likely to fall through the grates. Thicker slices will develop a nice sear without turning mushy. Thicker slices of onion or a hard vegetable like carrots will require a few extra minutes on the grill. Scallions are delicious and cook quite quickly.
  1. I have tried this recipe using lime juice instead of the lemon juice. Lemon juice is my preference, although lime could certainly be substituted if that is what you have on hand.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

The most important rule when making this meal: plan for leftovers!

What to do with the leftovers:

  • My mother-in-law loves to make her basic chicken salad recipe using the marinated and grilled chicken for a taste that’s anything but basic.
  • Leftover grilled vegetables are delicious in a Grilled Pesto Veggiewich.
  • Use the chicken as a salad topper, transforming a simple green salad into a hearty dinner salad. Add ingredients that complement the Asian theme, like chopped red pepper, avocado, cooked shelled edamame, sliced cucumber and/or radishes, etc.
  • Make tacos, shredding the chicken for the base and topping with coleslaw mix (from a bag is fine) tossed with your favorite Asian dressing or peanut sauce. Fish tacos are delightful when using the marinade for your favorite seafood.
  • Create a chopped salad with the leftover assortment of marinated grilled vegetables and the chicken. Chop into bite-size pieces and toss in some baby spinach–or chopped romaine or cabbage for added crispness. A sprinkle of roasted sunflower seeds or peanuts adds extra crunch.
  • Add the chopped leftovers to cooked pasta, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a spritz of sesame oil and/or soy sauce. A cilantro-lime, Thai peanut, or coconut curry sauce complement the ingredients nicely, too. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. A few handfuls of your favorite greens are a welcome addition when serving cold.
  • Eat the leftovers as is, either reheated or at room temperature, with or without a side of rice.

If you have other ideas to add to the list, I’d love to hear.

For my second TV spot, I made a recipe I make often for my family but have never shared on this blog.  It uses two leftover chicken breasts and a bag of broccoli slaw with a super speedy 4-ingredient Thai peanut sauce. If anyone is interested, leave a comment below. I’d be happy to share that light-yet-satisfying meal soon.  The weatherman really liked it. : )

Fox 43 News

The cooking begins with Fox 43’s Amy Lutz.

A 3-ingredient marinade makes a meal...and more

Fox 43 News

Following is the shockingly easy salad recipe I shared as a bonus.  It uses leftover chicken, a bag of broccoli slaw, and a super quick 4-ingredient Thai peanut sauce.  Even my teenage boys love this.
Best salad using leftover chicken, a bag of broccoli slaw, and a 4-ingredient Thai peanut sauce

And one more great way to enjoy leftovers… Grilled Pesto Veggiewich

Grilled Pesto Veggiewich

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  1. Trudy Eby

    Yes, I’d love to hear about your 4 ingredient peanut sauce.

    Congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone!

  2. Molly

    I have made this marinade many times and love it! I plan to work through your list of ways to use the extras. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Mary Chairs

    Great job! I’m going to try this tonight. Can you forward the slaw recipe when you get a chance. Thanks!

  4. Mary

    I made the chicken and vegetables for my family this week. Without any prompting, the feedback I received from husband and kids was, “Best chicken ever!” The cooking time seemed to be dead on with the exception of one of the thicker pieces that needed to be cooked a bit longer (I used boneless skinless breasts and I cooked them on the grill). I also made asparagus which I broiled instead of grilled because the stalks were very skinny. We had baked potatoes, fresh guacamole and corn. I’m thinking about making this again for a holiday BBQ this weekend. Thanks Ann!!

    1. Ann

      Such great feedback…thank you, Mary! I’m so glad this was a hit and hope your holiday weekend is delightful!

  5. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Chicken & Broccoli Slaw with Speedy Thai Peanut Sauce