Thins round out sandwich

When you've got the right pantry staples on hand, it's ever so easy to pull together a nutritious, satisfying dinner in just minutes.

Today's California Chicken Burgers rely on some unlikely ingredients: chicken in a foil pouch, roasted peppers from a jar and 100-calorie, fiber-rich "sandwich thins."

We used to rely on canned chicken as a pantry staple, but a few years ago, chicken followed tuna into the no-drain foil pouches found in the "canned meats" grocery aisle. This chicken is shelf-stable for more than a year and much fresher tasting than its canned cousin.

A new type of bread, sandwich thins, offer fewer calories and lots of whole grains and fiber.

Packages typically contain eight "buns," and the extras store well, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator.

For those who are cooking for one or two people, the chicken patties themselves refrigerate nicely for up to five or six days, and freeze well also.

While our California Chicken Burgers are delicious on their own, they're even better with our fresh Avocado Salsa. For that easy recipe, visit our Web site at www.KitchenScoop.com.

Makes 4 servings

Start to finish: 20 minutes.

Ingredients

1 (7-ounce) foil pouch chicken-breast meat (see cook's note)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1 large egg

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 sandwich thins for serving (or other bread; see cook's note)

Directions

Cook's note: For testing, we used Sweet Sue Premium Chicken Breast. Tyson and other brands also offer chicken-breast meat in a foil pouch. We used Nature's Own sandwich thins, but again, there are several brands.

Combine all the ingredients except the oil and bread in a medium bowl, and mix well with your hands, breaking up any large pieces of chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the chicken mixture into 4 patties, and place in the hot pan. Cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve on sandwich thins.

Per serving: 279 calories (27 percent from fat), 9g fat (1g saturated), 77.5mg cholesterol, 19g protein, 34.5g carbohydrates, 6g dietary fiber, 604mg sodium.

Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact them at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, or e-mail tellus@kitchenscoop.com.