Air Fryer Chicken Thighs with Salsa Verde and Lemony Kale Salad
An air fryer practically guarantees crispy, juicy chicken thighs. Seasoned simply with lemon zest, salt and pepper, they make a satisfying meal with an Italian-inspired salsa verde and bright kale salad (that's easy to make ahead). Air fried panko is the final crunchy touch.
a 3.5-quart air fryer and a 6- to 7-inch round baking dish
For the lemony kale salad: Whisk the lemon juice, Dijon, lemon zest, pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a large bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until smooth and emulsified. Add the kale and toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside at room temperature to marinate and soften, at least 15 minutes at and up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F. Toss together the panko, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a 6- to 7-inch baking dish until evenly combined. Place the baking dish in the air fryer basket and air fry until the panko are golden brown, stirring halfway through, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the dish from the air fryer, stir in the Pecorino and set aside.
For the chicken thighs: Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Pat the chicken dry between a few paper towels (this will help the skin get crispy). Rub the lemon zest onto the skinless side of each thigh and season with a good pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Flip the thighs over, rub the olive oil onto the skin and season each thigh with a good pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Place the thighs in the air fryer basket skin-side up, leaving a little space between each piece. Air fry until the skin is crispy and the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.
For the salsa verde: Meanwhile, finely chop the capers, anchovy filets (if using), garlic and a small pinch of salt with a sharp chef’s knife, mashing and scraping the mixture until it becomes a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the olive oil, vinegar and lemon zest. Fold in the parsley, basil and chives until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
To serve, give the kale salad a good toss, then top with the toasted panko and some more grated Pecorino. Transfer the chicken thighs to a dinner plate or serving platter and spoon the salsa verde over the top. Serve with the kale salad.
You can make the salsa verde in a food processor by pulsing together all the ingredients until the herbs are finely chopped and the sauce is just combined. (There’s no need to chop the herbs first.)
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