A two-olive tapenade brings richness to smoky paprika-rubbed chicken breasts, served with one of our favorite spring vegetables, asparagus. Colorful, light and flavorful this meal will surely be a seasonal favorite! If you can't find boneless skin on chicken breasts, no worries. You'll follow the directions in bold below and cook a little longer.
Peel the shallots and cut them crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Separate the slices into rings.
Snap off the woody ends from the asparagus.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Working in batches if needed, add the shallots and asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning the asparagus occasionally, until the shallots start to soften and the asparagus is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more oil between batches if needed. Wipe out the pan.
While the vegetables cook, prepare the chicken and lemon.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel; season generously with salt and pepper and the sweet smoked paprika.
Juice half the lemon and set aside for the olive tapenade; cut the other half in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons.
In the same pan used for the asparagus, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and the lemon slices and cook until the chicken skin is well browned and the lemon slices begin to char, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the lemon slices to the plate with the asparagus. Turn the chicken and cook until the meat is firm and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (if using bone in skin on: after browning skin and turning skin side up, place a lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until breasts are cooked through)
While the chicken and lemon cook, prepare the olive tapenade.
Finely chop the olives, checking for any pits.
Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure ½ teaspoon (1 tsp).
Strip the parsley leaves from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves.
In a medium bowl, stir together the olives, garlic, parsley, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When chicken is done, remove from pan, quickly add lemon and asparagus back to pan and toss for one minute to re-warm. Transfer the asparagus and lemon slices to individual plates. Top with the chicken and olive tapenade and serve.