Most of us are probably looking for ways to jazz up our typical chicken weeknight dinners without going totally gourmet or ending up with a sink overflowing with dishes. At least this is how I feel. So one night, long ago, I came up with this super easy way to transform plain-Jane chicken into something really tasty!
This easy, yet sophisticated entree now makes regular appearances at dinner in our home. It's always a home run for flavor and nutrition because the veggies are stuffed inside. You can easily make this with chicken cutlets or breasts, just make sure you pound them out evenly and keep your eye on the temperature while cooking. Using a leave-in thermometer is not necessary, but it's one of my secrets to always cooking perfect meat. It completely takes the guess work out.
Easy Stuffed Chicken
4 chicken cutlets
½ cup light Italian dressing (or whisk together a combination of 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp dried basil, and 1 tbsp dried oregano)
4 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese (or about ½ cup shredded)
2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
½ cup finely diced tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper (optional)
Suggested tools: plastic wrap, meat mallet, leave-in meat thermometer, tooth-picks
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
- One at a time, place a chicken cutlet between plastic wrap. With a meat mallet, gently pound cutlets to extend the size by about 25% (or to a 1/4" thickness), taking precaution to not create any tears. Lay pounded meat on prepared baking sheet.
- Brush each side of chicken with Italian (or homemade) dressing then place chicken smoother side down on pan.
- Layer chicken (the side facing up) with 1 slice of mozzarella (tear to fit if needed), then a small fist-full of both spinach and tomatoes, and lastly a hefty pinch of basil. Beginning with the wider end of the cutlet, roll up the chicken into a spiral, tucking in the stuffing as you go. Position cut side down on the pan and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle tops of chicken with salt and pepper if desired.
- Insert thermometer into one of the cutlets and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Other stuffing options:
- Greek style: spinach, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and olives. Use Greek salad dressing instead of Italian.
- Pizza style: tomato pasta, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms
- Dried cranberries or cherries, fresh rosemary, pine nuts, and shallots