Nuts to You

Too often the exterior of an encrusted entrée gets a tad scorched in the pan, lending a burned taste to an otherwise fine piece of fish or fowl. Not so with the pistachio-crusted chicken ($12.50 at lunch; $13.50 at dinner) at benjy's [2424 Dunstan, (713)522-7602]. A generously sized chicken breast is pressed into the finely minced nuts, then pan-seared (not too long) and baked. What arrives on your plate is a juicy piece of bird delicately encased in a nutty coating so flavorful it makes sauce virtually unnecessary. The chicken is served atop onion-potato gratin with provolone cheese; that in turn sits on a bed of cooked spinach, sautéed in olive oil and garlic. The dish is circled with a colorful medley of roasted tomatoes, eggplant and squash in a light sage sauce, and topped with a bouquet of grilled asparagus. If it weren't so good, it'd be too pretty to eat.
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Carol Rust