Tahini Chicken Schnitzel with Smashed Cucumber Salad
In this Middle Eastern–inspired dish, chicken breasts are pounded thin, dipped in a combination of paprika, oregano, and tahini, then seared until crisp and golden brown. A salad of cherry tomato, smashed cucumbers, and lettuce adds a bright component to this winning chicken dinner.
Total cook time
- 1 English cucumber
- 3/4 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/8 ounce oregano
- 1/8 ounce parsley
- 2 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 ounce honey
- 5 ounces mixed lettuces
- olive oil
- 2 eggs
- kosher salt
- black pepper
Rinse all produce. Halve cucumber lengthwise and halve crosswise, then arrange skin-side up. Using a meat mallet or heavy pan, smash cucumber until skin cracks and flesh softens (see recipe tip), then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Halve tomatoes. Roughly chop oregano and parsley leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemons. Mince garlic. Reserve 2 tablespoons tahini in a small bowl and set aside for making dressing in Step 5.
In a large bowl, toss cucumber, tomatoes, juice of .5 lemon, garlic, .5 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine. Set aside until ready to serve. In a separate large bowl, whisk 2 eggs, remaining tahini (not 2 tablespoons reserved), half of spice mix, and .25 cup water until smooth. On a large plate, combine breadcrumbs, half of sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired.
Pat chicken dry with paper towel and place between 2 large pieces plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or heavy pan, pound chicken to .25-inch thickness, then season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Dip chicken in egg-tahini mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge in sesame breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere.
In a large nonstick pan, heat enough olive oil to reach about .125-inch up sides of pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken, working in batches and adding oil in between as needed. Sear until crust is browned and chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a paper towel–lined plate to drain, and sprinkle over a pinch of salt.
Add honey, juice of 1 lemon, remaining spice mix, and 2 tablespoons water to bowl with reserved 2 tablespoons tahini and whisk to combine. Cut remaining lemon into wedges for serving.
Pat lettuces dry with paper towel and add to bowl with cucumber and tomatoes. Add half of herbs and toss to combine. Divide smashed cucumber salad among serving plates and drizzle over tahini dressing. Transfer chicken schnitzel to plates, garnish everything with remaining herbs and remaining sesame seeds, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
All recipe ingredients should be cooked to a safe internal temperature according to USDA guidelines. After preparing a recipe, please store any leftovers in the refrigerator.