Seed Catalog Recipe Proves a Keeper

This is a spring thing, published in a garden seed catalog years ago, with an uncertain provenance — who knows where it originated?

This chicken dish struck exactly the right note in so many kitchens that it became a celebrity almost overnight.

It’s time we brought it back.

It’s possible that the slow sautéeing that helps bring out the flavors of the ripe peppers, or the mixture of herbs and onions that accounted for its popularity. My best guess is that it’s the chicken, low cost and low fat; or perhaps the fact that it contains ingredients that are not hard to find. Added to that, the aroma is wonderful. Best of all, it doesn’t take long to prepare.

To do it full justice, please serve it with a long loaf of French bread and brown rice. It will make four generous servings.

Allene White lives in Brooklin.

Chicken Santa Cruz

  • 4 portions boneless chicken breast, skinned, and cut into ½-inch strips
  • 2 Tbsps. lemon juice
  • 4 large, fresh bell peppers; use any combination of colors
  • 4 Tbsps. salad oil or very light olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large onions, fine slices
  • 1 tsp. whole or ½ tsp. ground cumin seed
  • 1½ tsps. minced fresh or 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1½ tsps. minced fresh hot chili pepper, or ½ tsp. dried flakes
  • ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. finely chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle chicken strips with lemon juice and set aside. Cut the peppers in half and remove seeds and ribs. Cut into 1½-inch-wide strips. In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the garlic and cook 1 minute on moderate heat. Add the pepper strips, the sliced onion, cumin, oregano and chili pepper. Stir the vegetables to coat evenly with the oil. Cover and cook over medium heat 10 minutes.

Uncover the pan and stir. Add the chicken strips and mix with the vegetable mixture. Cover the skillet again and cook gently for 10 minutes more. Uncover. Chicken should be cooked through and the vegetable mixture should be tender and aromatic. Add the salt and pepper as you like. Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before you serve.

And how do you follow a hearty skillet supper? Strawberries are in the market and the rhubarb is up. Does this give you a hint?

Strawberry/Rhubarb Crisp

  • 6 stalks rhubarb
  • 1½ pints strawberries
  • 6 Tbsps. sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsps. flour


  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbsps. cold, unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the almonds in the oven until lightly browned. When they are cool, chop lightly.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, salt and almonds. Cut the butter into small bits and add it to the flour mixture. Mix with fingers until crumbly.

Peel off the outer skin of the rhubarb and chop off both ends. Cut the stalks into one-inch pieces, enough to make 3 cupfuls. Hull the strawberries, then cut in half. Toss the fruit together with the sugar and flour until evenly coated. Place the fruit in a 6-by-10-inch baking dish and cover with the topping.

Bake for one hour until it bubbles, looks brown and crisp. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or slightly sweetened whipped cream.


Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]