This menu fairly sings of springtime. Paillards are thin slices of meat (chicken, in this instance) that get quickly sautéed or grilled – the beauty being that the thin cut can be immersed in and surrounded by a sauce of complementary flavors, in this case the sprightly flavors of lemon, capers, and fresh thyme.

The accompanying couscous pilaf is also light and colorful, and if you add some steamed sugar snap peas, the seasonal meal is complete.

CHICKEN PAILLARDS WITH CAPERS, LEMON AND THYME

This recipe calls for cutting boneless breasts longitudinally into half-inch-thick slices but you could also use chicken tenders, which are available in most supermarket meat cases. Be sure to drain the capers well, otherwise the sauce could end up too salty.

Makes 4 servings

1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish

1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ tablespoons drained capers

4 thin lemon slices, cut in half

Slice chicken longitudinally into ½-inch-thick slices and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread flour out on a plate. Dredge chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.

In a very large skillet or 2 smaller skillets, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When oil is hot, add floured chicken and cook over medium to medium-high heat, until golden brown on the first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn, sprinkle with the thyme, and cook until the second side is browned. Remove to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan.

Add broth to the skillet, raise heat to high, and cook, stirring up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until liquid is reduced and lightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and capers and simmer for 1 minute. Cut the remaining 2 teaspoons butter into small pieces and whisk into the sauce.

Return chicken and any accumulated juices to sauce, along with lemon slices, and heat through. Garnish with thyme sprigs, and serve.

COUSCOUS PILAF

I always find it amazing – almost miraculous – that couscous (tiny Middle Eastern pasta) cooks by just sitting in hot liquid for a mere 5 minutes. What could be simpler? And the addition of some colorful vegetables is a lovely enhancement to this delightful, light starch.

Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large or 2 small stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 cups chicken broth or a combination of broth and water

½ teaspoon salt, plus additional if necessary

1½ cups (one 10-ounce box) plain couscous

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter. Add carrots, onion, and celery and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add broth and salt, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, remove from heat, and cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and taste for seasoning, adding pepper and more salt if needed. Couscous reheats well in the microwave.

Brooke Dojny’s most recent cookbook is “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula. Contact her via Facebook:

facebook.com/brookedojny