Blackened chicken pitas

(National Chicken Council)

The magic of this recipe arises from the blending of flavors, the spiciness of the seasonings and the tartness of the yogurt sauce. I like to garnish the servings with large bunches of seedless red grapes or fresh orange wedges.

Seasoning Mixture

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

? teaspoon salt

To complete the recipe

½ cup plain yogurt

½ teaspoon sugar

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)

Two 6-inch pita breads (white or whole wheat), each sliced in half vertically

8 leaves soft leaf lettuce, such as Bibb, Boston, green leaf, or red leaf

Stir together the seasoning mixture in a small bowl.

Pour the yogurt into a separate small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture and the sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag; flatten them to a ½-inch uniform thickness. Spread the seasoning mixture on both sides of each chicken breast.

Heat a stovetop grill pan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and arrange the chicken on the grill; cook for about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for 4 more minutes, or until it is well browned (and somewhat blackened) and cooked through.

Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of the seasoned yogurt sauce on the top of each chicken breast. Slice the chicken breasts in half.

For each sandwich, open 2 pita bread pockets; line each with lettuce leaves. Slip in the chicken breast halves. Drizzle each sandwich with about 1 more tablespoon of the yogurt mixture.

Advance preparation

The yogurt sauce may be made in several hours in advance; cover and refrigerate. The chicken breasts can be spread with the seasoning mixture, placed in a single layer on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for several hours before cooking. If you prefer, the chicken can be cooked up to 1 day in advance and served chilled. Assemble the pita sandwiches just before serving.